If you’ve entered into the estate planning process, you know there are a lot of things that you need to consider. You’ll need a will, but if you think that this is the only document you need to protect your loved ones, you’re incorrect. When you’re planning your estate, make sure to include a living will, as well as a medical power of attorney. However, do you understand the legal implications of each? Take a few minutes to review this explanation from a will attorney in Chicago.
A living will is a legal document that spells out exactly what you want to happen in case you’re unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Your attorney should go through a number of ‘what if’ scenarios that could happen, such as:
- Nutrition. Do you want nutrition or hydration provided if you’re unable to eat or drink on your own?
- Breathing assistance. If you’re unable to breathe for yourself, do you want a machine to do the breathing for you?
- Dialysis. If your kidneys shut down, do you want dialysis performed to remove waste?
- Resuscitation. If your heart stops beating, do you want to have it restarted using CPR or a defibrillator?
Living wills are sometimes also called advanced healthcare directives. Your lawyer will try to cover every possible scenario, but this isn’t always possible.
Medical Power Of Attorney
A medical power of attorney differs greatly from a living will. With a medical power of attorney, patients are actually signing over the decision making capabilities to a friend or family member. It’s important to talk your wishes over with whomever you give medical power of attorney, however. Although you would hope that this person follows your wishes, that doesn’t have to happen. The person appointed power of attorney has full authority to make all medical decisions, regardless of what you want to happen.
What About A Do Not Resuscitate Order?
If you’re in the hospital, you may be asked to sign a paper stating your wishes if your heart stops. This is commonly called a do not resuscitate order, but it’s different than a living will. You do not need to have a document drawn up by an attorney in order to have a DNR order on your hospital paperwork.
With the differences between a living will and a medical power of attorney, it’s important that both documents are a part of your estate planning process. Having these documents prepared by a lawyer is one of the kindest things you can do for your family.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a will attorney in Chicago from Peck Ritchey, LLC, can help you with every step of the estate planning process, please us at (312) 201-0900 or contact us today.