A living will specifies how you would like to be cared for if you become incapacitated, most specifically your wishes for or against extreme medical interventions such as artificial life support. In Illinois, living wills serve two very important functions. They:
- Name a health care agent who will make medical decision for you.
- Lay out – as specific as you are comfortable with – the conditions under which you’d want to be kept alive through artificial respiration and other artificial means.
The high-profile case of Terri Schiavo in 2005 shed new light on the importance of living wills. America witnessed her family argue passionately over the question, “Would she have wanted to live indefinitely in a persistent vegetative state?” In this age of highly advanced medicine in which you could be kept alive even under extreme circumstances, it’s important to decide when to draw the line on a perceived quality of life if you become severely incapacitated. Making that decision for yourself can lift a tremendous burden off of your family’s shoulders; living wills are designed for this purpose.
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