In most states in the United States, including the State of Illinois, individuals have the right to execute a living will. Each state determines what decisions may be made in a living will as well as the language and formalities required to make the living will valid. If you are currently in a nursing home the staff at the nursing home may offer to do a living will for you. Before agreeing to sign any legal document, including a living will, you should always have your Illinois estate planning attorney review the document.
There are several reasons why it may not be a good idea to have a nursing home draft a living will for you, including, but not limited to:
- Validity – a living will allows you to decide ahead of time what end of life medical decisions you will make in the event you have a terminal condition. Therefore, when you need your living will to work you will likely not be in a position to change anything should something be wrong with the document. It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that the living will you create include all the required language, and that all formalities of creation are followed, to ensure that the living will is valid and can be used when needed. Only an attorney can assure you that a legal document is, indeed, valid.
- Conflict of interest – while most nursing homes have the best interests of their patients at heart, there are those that do not. It may be easier, and cheaper, to care for a terminally ill patient who has decided to forego lengthy, life-sustaining, medical treatment. Do you really want the same people who will be caring for you helping you decide what care you will receive?
- Legal advice – while anyone can supply you with a legal form, only an attorney can give you legal advice. If you have a question about a term or an option in your living will, no one at the nursing home can provide you with an answer. It is never a good idea to sign a legal document without the ability to ask questions and get advice from an attorney.
- Witnesses – taking much of this into account, the law specifically forbids anyone who is responsible for your medical care, or who will inherit from you, from signing as a witness on your living will. Therefore, even if you were to allow the nursing home to prepare a living will for you, no one there could act as the required two witnesses.
If you have additional questions or concerns about living wills, or your Illinois estate plan in general, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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