Advance Directives Attorney in Lake County & Cook County, Illinois
Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is exclusively for protecting your property and financial affairs. Estate planning also includes tools that allow you to make your healthcare and end-of-life wishes known. Specifically, an advance directive can be used to make plans regarding your healthcare ahead of time.
At Goldstein Law Office, I consider advance directives a fundamental part of a comprehensive estate plan. I wholeheartedly believe that documenting a person’s healthcare wishes is just as critical – if not more so – as protecting their financial affairs. As an estate planning attorney in Lake County & Cook County, Illinois, I help clients create an advance directive that fits their needs, circumstances, and goals. Also, I proudly serve clients in Deerfield, Highland Park, North Chicago, Antioch, Lake Forest, and Waukegan.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a written statement that you can prepare in your life to make your healthcare and end-of-life wishes known. This statement allows you to specify how you want healthcare decisions to be made when you are no longer able to make them yourself due to the loss of physical or mental capacity.
According to the official website of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois law recognizes four types of advance directives:
A health care power of attorney. With this document, you can choose someone you trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.
A living will. With a living will, you can inform your doctors not to perform specific death-delaying procedures when (a) diagnosed with a terminal condition and (b) unable to express your wishes.
A practitioner Order for life-sustaining treatment (POLST). With this order, you can specify that you do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to be used in the event you stop breathing or your heart stops beating.
A mental health treatment preference declaration. With this declaration, you can specify whether or not you want to receive psychotropic medicine and/or electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) when diagnosed with a mental condition that makes you unable to make decisions on your own. You can also express your wishes regarding your admission to a mental health facility for a maximum of 17 days of treatment.
Deciding which types of advance directives would be appropriate for your situation can be challenging, which is why you need to consult with an experienced attorney.
What Happens if You Do Not Create an Advance Directive?
If you do not create an advance directive while you still have the capacity to do so, you could end up receiving medical treatment that does not align with your wishes. When you lose your ability to make healthcare decisions and do not have an advance directive, a healthcare surrogate will be appointed to make decisions for you.
In Illinois, two doctors must certify that a patient is unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves before a surrogate can be appointed. Any of the following persons can be chosen as the healthcare surrogate (in this order):
the patient’s guardian;
the surviving spouse;
close friend; or
the estate’s guardian.
While a healthcare surrogate will have the authority to make the vast majority of healthcare decisions, they cannot make all decisions. For example, a healthcare surrogate does not have the authority to order doctors to stop or withhold life-sustaining treatment unless the patient has a qualifying condition (permanent unconsciousness, terminal condition, or incurable/irreversible condition).
Can You Modify Your Advance Directive?
Yes, you can modify any contents of your advance directive at any time as long as you have the capacity to do so. Advance directive documents can also be revoked at any time. In fact, it is a good idea to review your advance directive periodically to ensure the document still reflects your wishes.
If you make any changes to your advance directive, make sure that all interested parties, including your healthcare proxy (agent), are informed about the changes and provided with the new document to avoid any confusion in the future.
How Can an Advance Directive Attorney Help?
Creating an advance directive can be a legal minefield, which is why you need to get help from an attorney. Here are some of the ways an advance directive attorney can help:
1. Providing Legal Expertise
When it comes to legal matters related to creating an advance directive, there is no substitute for a legal professional who has experience with these types of legal documents. An advance directive attorney can help direct you through the process, ensuring that everything is done correctly and that your wishes are properly outlined in the document.
2. Avoiding Mistakes
Many people try to take the DIY approach when it comes to creating their advance directives. While this is certainly an option, it can be risky. The language used in these documents can be complex and nuanced, and one small mistake can render the document invalid. By working with an advance directive attorney, you can avoid these mistakes and ensure that your document is recognized and upheld in the event of a healthcare crisis.
One of the attributes of an advance directive is that it is a personalized document, tailored to each individual’s preferences and wishes. When you work with an advance directive attorney, they will take the time to get to know you, your values, your healthcare preferences, and your wishes for end-of-life care. This allows them to craft a document tailored precisely to your needs, ensuring that your voice is heard and respected in the event of incapacitation.
4. Regular Updates
Your advance directive is not something you create once and then forget about. It is a document that should be updated regularly to reflect any changes in your wishes or healthcare status. An advance directive attorney can help you keep your document up to date, ensuring that it accurately reflects your current wishes and preferences. This can be especially important if you have recently experienced any major life changes, such as a diagnosis or the loss of a loved one.
5. Peace of Mind
Perhaps the most significant benefit of working with an advance directive attorney is the peace of mind that it brings. Knowing that your healthcare wishes are documented and legally recognized can relieve a significant amount of stress and anxiety. It allows you to focus on living your life fully, secure in the knowledge that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure that your preferences will be respected in the event of a healthcare crisis.
Advance Directives Attorney Serving Lake County & Cook County, Illinois
It is vital to seek an attorney if you are thinking about creating an advance directive. As an advance directive attorney at Goldstein Law Office, I can help you ensure that your wishes are respected and provide you with the peace of mind you deserve. From my office in Northbrook, I serve Lake County and Cook County in Illinois. Reach out to my office today to request a free consultation.