Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law
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Your body, your choice: Making medical decisions for yourself

It is impossible to predict what will happen in the future, but you can give yourself a measure of protection by making sure you have certain documents included as part of your estate plan. You have the right to decide for yourself what kind of medical care you wish to receive in case you are ever incapacitated, but the only way to do that is to have certain documents drafted as part of your estate plan.

Through a health care power of attorney and a living will, you can outline your wishes for emergency and end-of-life care. No one likes to think about these matters, but it can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones to go ahead and make certain decisions in order to avoid future complications.

What protections do you need?

There are two ways to outline your wishes and make contingency plans in case you are ever too ill or too injured to speak for yourself. You can do this with either or both of the following documents:

Health care power of attorney: Through this document, you will have the ability to name a person to make decisions on your behalf in case of incapacitation. The person you choose must meet the following requirements:

  • Cannot be your doctor
  • Can be trusted to make important medical decisions
  • Meets Illinois requirements as a health care agent
  • Can be trusted to advocate for your interests

Your health care agent should be a trusted individual, one who will make thoughtful decisions about your care. This can be a family member, trusted friend or a member of your faith community.

Living will: This is a written document that outlines what type of medical care you would like to receive in the future. Through this, you can outline your wishes for the following:

  • Resuscitation
  • Tube feeding
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Palliative care
  • Dialysis
  • Antibiotics
  • Organ donation

Making these decisions can be difficult, and you may find it useful to discuss these matters with your doctor and family members.

By making the effort to have these protections in place now, you will have peace of mind regarding your own care in the future, as well as security in knowing that your loved ones will not have to make complex decisions regarding your care and comfort. Your estate plan should involve more than just deciding what will happen to your money. With the help of your attorney, you can protect your right to decide for yourself what will happen with your body in case of an unexpected situation.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law