End-of-life care: Make your preferences known

In your estate plan, one thing you may want to discuss is your preference on the state's euthanasia laws. Most states do not allow physician-assisted suicides, but that doesn't mean that you can't have life-sustaining assistance withheld if you prefer to die naturally.

In your estate plan, it is a good idea to address this situation directly. You should know that withholding or withdrawing from death-delaying procedures is an option that you have. Taking away these assistive machines or procedures is legal, and it doesn't constitute homicide or suicide when patients meet certain qualifications.

If you don't want life-sustaining procedures withheld from you, even when someone else is in charge of your care, you need to state this to your health care power of attorney, so they know what you want. You should also include an advance directive, which is essentially a living will, and documents the preferences you have for medical care at the end of your life.

Illinois law does not allow mercy killing or any deliberate act that causes a person's death. This isn't something you should have to worry about, but laws could change. It's still a good idea to address this potential allowance in your advance directive so that your wishes are known.

Our site has more information about end-of-life care and why it's so important to include this information in estate planning. It's not always easy to talk about your preferences at the end of your life but planning for this while you're of sound mind is the best way to have your wishes respected.

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