Advance Directives, Living Wills, and Healthcare Power of Attorney

Web Admin - Thursday, February 08, 2018
Schaumburg estate planning lawyer advance directivesProper estate planning is essential for every family, and the decisions made during this process will allow you to protect your personal property and financial assets and pass them on to your heirs after your death. But in addition to considering what will happen after you die, it is also a good idea to plan for how medical decisions will be handled for you if you ever become unable to make these decisions for yourself. The documents detailing your instructions in these matters are known as advance directives, and the two most common directives are living wills and healthcare power of attorney.

Living Wills

With a living will, you can inform a doctor or other healthcare provider that you do not want them to use medical procedures which will delay your death if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. A living will only goes into effect if you have an “incurable and irreversible condition [in which] death is imminent” and you are unable to communicate your preferences to your doctor.

Illinois law provides a standard form for living wills, but you may also create your own customized document, including specific instructions about certain situations or medical procedures you do not want your doctor to perform.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney document allows you to name someone who is authorized to make decisions for you if you cannot make decisions for yourself. You can give this person, known as your agent, broad authority to make decisions, or you can include specific instructions about what types of decisions they can make, what treatments you do and do not want to receive, whether you would like to donate your organs after your death, and how your remains should be disposed of.

Healthcare power of attorney will go into effect as soon as the document is signed, and your agent will continue to have authority to make decisions until your death, unless you include a time limit. If you have both a living will and healthcare power of attorney, decisions about death-delaying treatments will be made by your agent, unless they are unavailable, in which case your doctors will follow the instructions in your living will.

Contact a Schaumburg Estate Planning Lawyer

In addition to healthcare power of attorney and a living will, you may want to consider other advance directives: a mental health treatment preference declaration which will describe what treatments for mental illness you want to receive if you cannot make decisions for yourself, or a do not resuscitate (DNR) order which states that you do not want to be revived if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating.

If you want to know more about how to create the advance directives that will ensure your wishes are carried out correctly if you are incapacitated, the skilled attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can answer your questions and work with you to create the documents you need. Contact our Barrington estate planning attorneys at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Study Finds Most Doctors Are Confused by Living Wills

Web Admin - Friday, February 24, 2017

Barrington medical malpractice lawyersLiving wills are, quite literally, a matter of life and death. They are also fairly common documents, which means doctors and surgeons should know how to interpret them. Yet a recent study has determined that, much of the time, they interpret these documents incorrectly. Besides having the wishes expressed in their living will violated, what might this mean for patients and their families? The following explains. 

A Closer Look at the Study

Published in the Journal of Patient Safety, the recent study asked 741 physicians from 13 different hospitals to detail how they would treat nine different patients with varying degrees of cardiopulmonary distress, based on what they understood from the patients’ living wills. They only reached a consensus (defined as agreement of 95 percent or higher) in two out of the nine scenarios. If they viewed a one-minute video that expressed each patient’s wishes, along with reading the living will, they reached a 94 percent agreement on a third patient. 

What was most disturbing about this is that, out of those remaining cases, many doctors got the answer wrong. Some would have given too much treatment to a patient who did not want specific life-saving procedures and practices. Others would have given too little treatment, potentially placing the patient at risk for death when they wanted life-saving practices and procedures. The implications of either are concerning, to say the least. 

What Happens When Doctors Misinterpret Living Wills

Patients who have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) in place typically have one for a particular reason. Perhaps they simply do not want to risk the chances of being left in a vegetative state, or making their families decide when to pull the plug. Others may have chronic and debilitating conditions that are eroding their health. 

In contrast, patients who want certain life-saving procedures and practices have reasons for wanting to live. Maybe they have children, or are simply okay with certain practices but not others. They can express these specific wishes through their living will. Yet, if they are not interpreted correctly, patients and their families may experience a wrongful death, or a situation where they are revived and forced to live in a way they might not wanted (i.e. being in a comatose state or on life support). Both situations could pave the way for a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Contact Our Barrington Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or someone you love has experienced wrongful death or improper treatment, despite having a living will in place, the experienced Barrington medical malpractice attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help. Dedicated and experienced, we will fight for the most compensation possible in your case. Learn more by calling 847-934-6000 today.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


New Illinois Law Affects Gifts to Caregivers

Web Admin - Thursday, November 13, 2014

Illinois caregiver probate, Schaumburg probate lawyerDrafting a will is an important step towards ensuring that a person's final wishes can be accurately carried out. However, there have been recent cases of elderly testators succumbing to the undue influence of caregivers or other people close to them, and altering their wills in ways that they would not ordinarily want to. In order to better protect the interests of people drafting wills and other documents to memorialize their last wishes, Illinois has passed a new law that alters the way that courts treat gifts to caregivers if someone contests the validity of the document.

Presumptively Void Transfers

In the event that someone legally challenges a bequest to a caregiver of more than $20,000, the court will apply a “rebuttable presumption” that the transfer is void. A void transfer would not go through and would instead be redistributed under other provisions of estate law. However, not all large gifts to caregivers would be void under the law. The law instructs the court to use a rebuttable presumption, which means that the caregiver is allowed to argue that the transfer was valid and should go through normally.

What the presumption does, essentially, is forces the caregiver to fight an uphill battle if he or she wants to claim the money. The caregiver would need to show by “clear and convincing evidence,” a higher than normal standard, “that the transfer was not the product of fraud, duress, or undue influence.” The caregiver also has another option to demonstrate the validity of the will. If the caregiver can show that the gift's size is no greater than it would have been before he or she became the caregiver, then he or she can overcome the presumption.

When the Law Applies

The law contains a variety of cutouts and definitions that make it more clear when the law does or does not apply. For instance, the law provides an exception for family members who act as caregivers. They will not have to face the presumption of voidness, though they do still need to deal with ordinary issues of fraud and duress. The law also sets out a definition of the types of documents that the rule applies to, which the law refers to as transfer instruments. According to the law, a transfer instrument is a document designed to cause a transfer of assets on or after the date of the transferor's death. These instruments can be wills, trusts, or contracts, among a variety of other types of legal documents.

If you believe that a family member's will was improperly tampered with by a caregiver, seek the help of a dedicated Schaumburg, Illinois probate attorney today. Our firm can help you learn about the options you have to make sure that your family member's final wishes are carried out properly. We assist clients in Inverness, Palatine, Arlington Heights, and throughout the Chicagoland suburbs.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.

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