COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS
Imagine that we could shrink the Earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people with all existing human ratios remaining the same. It would look like this: There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 8 Africans, and 14 from North and South America. 50% of the entire world's wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people and all 6 would be from the United States. 80 people would live in substandard housing. 70 would be unable to read. 50 would suffer from malnutrition. 1 would be near death. 1 would be near birth. Only 1 would have a college education. No one would own a computer. In 2005, let us be very grateful to live in the greatest country in the world and remember that our problems, no matter how significant they may seem to us, are often rather trivial.
Bond & Associates, P.C.
In this issue…
In light of the recent Terry Schiavo case, many people have questions about how to properly plan for severe disability caused by injury or illness. We recommend to all our clients that they make their intentions known in the event of disability as well as death. Everyone should have a proper estate plan in place to avoid the sort of family discord that resulted from the Schiavo case and which often rears its head after a family member dies.
Since 1984, Illinois has provided a statutory basis for a competent individual to elect that no extraordinary medical measures be used in prolonging or maintaining his life. The Living Will Act recognizes the right of a person to make a written declaration instructing his physician to withhold or withdraw death-delaying procedures in the event of a terminal condition. In no small measure, the declaration serves to protect physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers from liability by reason of their assent to a client's written wishes.
It is important to note that under the Living Will Act death-delaying procedures can be withheld or withdrawn only if the patient is suffering from a "terminal condition." The term "terminal condition" means an incurable and irreversible condition such that death is imminent and the application of death-delaying procedures would serve only to prolong the dying process. The term "death-delaying procedures" includes intravenous feeding and tube feeding, but the Act also contains the following statement:
"Nutrition and hydration shall not be withdrawn or withheld from a qualified patient if the withdrawal or withholding would result in death solely from dehydration or starvation rather than from the existing terminal condition."
Therefore, a living will does not allow the health care provider to discontinue food and fluids if death would result from starvation or dehydration.
Had the Schiavo case occurred in Illinois, her feeding tube could not have been removed even if she had a living will. However, a proper estate plan would have also included a Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint one or more individuals to make medical decisions for you in the event you are not able. Had Ms. Schiavo had a Power of Attorney for Health Care in place, it is likely that a feeding tube never would have been inserted and none of us would have watched the tragic family feud that played out. In most cases, a Power of Attorney for Health Care is of much greater usefulness that a Living Will.
Under Illinois' Power of Attorney for Health Care law, three standard options are presented when directing your agent how to act. These may be amended as you wish:
A) If at any time I should have an incurable and irreversible injury, disease, or illness judged to be a terminal condition or a permanently unconscious condition by my attending physician who has personally examined me and has determined that my death is imminent except for death delaying procedures, or that I will remain in a permanently unconscious condition, I direct that such procedures which would only prolong the dying process be withheld or withdrawn, and that I be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication, sustenance or the performance of any medical procedure deemed necessary by my attending physician to provide me with comfort care.
B. Nutrition and hydration. If I have a condition stated above, I DO NOT want to receive artificially administered nutrition and hydration (food and fluids) procedures, except as deemed necessary by my physician to provide me with comfort care.
C. In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such death-delaying procedures, it is my intention that this declaration be honored by my family and physician as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from such refusal.
A Living Will contains the following language:
"If at any time I should have an incurable and irreversible injury, disease, or illness judged to be a terminal condition by my attending physician who has personally examined me and has determined that my death is imminent except for death delaying procedures, I direct that such procedures which would only prolong the dying process be withheld or withdrawn, and that I be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication, sustenance, or the performance of any medical procedure deemed necessary by my attending physician to provide me with comfort care.
In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such death delaying procedures, it is my intention that this declaration shall be honored by my family and physician as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from such refusal."
If you are in need of estate planning in the event of death or disability, visit our website at http://www.tedbondjrpc.com or http://www.lakecountylawyer.com. Click on the wills and trusts section and then pull up the new client questionnaire. Complete it and forward to our office. One of our attorneys will then contact you to discuss a proper estate plan and our reasonable rates for the recommended services.
If you are receiving this newsletter, one or more of the members of our firm has represented you in a past legal matter or dispute and we thank you for your business. Were you satisfied with the service you received and the results we obtained? Did you feel that our fees were fair and reasonable? If so, please feel free to refer our firm to your friends, family and acquaintances. We strive to make our clients happy and nothing says thank you better than repeat business or a referral.
Our firm handles a wide variety of cases. While we may have helped you in one area of the law, you may not be aware that we also handle:
- Real estate law
- Residential closings
- Commercial closings
- Landlord representation
- Title disputes and litigation
- Family law
- Child support
- Orders of protection
- Prenuptial agreements
- Personal Injury
- Motor vehicle accidents
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- Dog bites
- Products Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Wrongful Death
- Worker's compensation
- Civil litigation
- Wills and trusts
- Small business formation and representation
- Criminal Law and Traffic Violations: Although we do not handle these types of cases, we can refer you to competent legal counsel
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