A living will is a legal document in which a person can declare his or her desire to refuse the use of artificial means of survival in the event that he or she is diagnosed with a terminal condition.
Properly drafted, it assures that your rights will be respected if you lose the physical or mental ability to actively participate in death delaying decisions regarding your own health.
For example, if you are in a coma and there is no medical treatment that can cure you, your Living Will tells your doctors not to give you any treatment that will only artificially keep you alive.
Moreover, this document can spare family members the burden of making health decisions about consenting or refusing death delaying procedures should you ever be in a terminal state.
In Illinois, any person 18 years of age or older who resides in the state of Illinois. In order to be valid, a Living Will must be signed by you and two (2) independent witnesses. These two (2) witnesses must also be 18 years of age or older. These witnesses cannot be someone who is responsible for your medical care or who will inherit from you.
It does not permit your doctor to withhold artificial nutrition (food) and hydration (water) from you if that alone would cause your death, nor will this document prevent your doctor from providing pain medication.
In Illinois, this document takes affect only if:
A Living Will is not used if:
Once it is properly drafted, you should give it to your doctor and notify your family. Your doctor will then file it with your records and follow its instructions.
A doctor may refuse to follow the document’s instructions. He must notify you so you can transfer to another physician. If you are unable to transfer to another physician, your doctor must notify (1) any person you have authorized to make such arrangements, (2) your guardian, or (3) any members of your family.
You can revoke your document at any time. You may revoke your Living Will by (1) destroying or defacing the document, (2) signing a written revocation, or (3) telling a person who is 18 years old or older that you want to revoke it who, thereafter, puts the revocation in writing.
You should tell your doctor immediately when you cancel this document because the Living Will only stops working when your doctor gets notice. You should also tell everyone whom you gave it to that you canceled it.
If you want to assure that your health decisions regarding artificial means of life are honored, you should make a Living Will as soon as you can. This will assure that your doctor and family know exactly what your wishes are in case you get a terminal condition.
Illinois laws do not require the use of an attorney; however, an experienced attorney can help draft a Living Will that will best declare your wishes and protect your interests.
Call Eileen Kerlin Walsh at 708-448-5169 wilth questions about a living will.