At Mockaitis Law, we know that many people in Illinois only think about wills when they hear the phrase “estate planning.” It is true that a will is an important and essential part of an estate plan, but it does not apply to every possible contingency. Because a will does not go into effect until after you die, your estate plan should include other documents delineating what is to happen in the event that you become permanently incapacitated due to an accident or illness.

According to FindLaw, advance directives take effect in the event that you can no longer make decisions for yourself and express what you want to happen and what treatment you do and do not want to receive after becoming incapacitated. There are two basic types of advance directives: a health care power of attorney and a living will. A comprehensive estate plan should include both. 

A health care  power of attorney appoints an individual to represent you as a health care  proxy and make decisions regarding your medical treatment in the event that you are unable to do so. A living will is a document that describes what sort of medical treatment you do and do not want to receive at the end of your life.

The wishes you express in your living will take precedence, and even your health care proxy must abide by them. The role of the health care  proxy is to make decisions for you should a situation arise that your living will does not address. More information about estate planning and administration is available on our website.