By Rick Law, Lead Attorney at the Estate Planning Center of Law Elder Law, LLP; Senior Advocates in West Suburban Chicagoland.
Advanced planning is always the preferred course of action. As we say in the elder law world — don’t wait till you’re out of money and out of options.
When it comes to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, one of the most valuable documents to have is a living will. This document sets forth the Alzheimer’s patient’s choices for future medical decisions, such as the use of artificial life support, and is used to instruct medical personnel of the patient’s wishes.
A living will only takes effect when two doctors certify in writing that the person is irreversibly ill or critically injured and near death.
It is important to be aware of the defined terms and to advise clients of their meanings in filling out a living will. For example, many people may not be aware that when they say they want “sustenance” they are actually demanding to have a feeding tube and hydration.
It is extremely important to understand that if you do not want a feeding tube, you need to put that in your advance directive in writing. Not only will that help ensure your wishes are met, but it will also remove the guilt from the family by taking the decision-making process out of their hands.
Case-in-point: The Terri Schiavo Case…
One of the more prominent cases in recent memory dealing with advance directives is the Terri Schiavo case. In this instance, Terri Schiavo had no advance directives of any kind. Her parents and her estranged husband were in disagreement about whether to keep her on life support, and a long and contentious legal battle ensued.
If she had had a living will in place, it would have served as a written expression of her intent and could have put an end to the controversy. Certainly, the expression of intent regarding removal of life support in writing is a circumstance that will put a family’s mind at ease.
If you’re ready to start getting your estate in order and secure your assets for the “worst-case” scenario, please give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now.
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees
Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.