Living Wills

Chicago Health Care Power Directives | Living WillsPossibly the best known mechanism for a person to exercise his or her right to refuse medical treatment is through a living will or advance directive.  The Illinois legislature approved the Illinois Living Will Act which states in part:

“The legislature finds that persons have the fundamental right to control the decisions relating to the rendering of their own medical care, including the decision to have death delaying procedures withheld or withdrawn in instances of a terminal condition.  In order that the rights of patients may be respected even after they are no longer able to participate actively in decisions about themselves, the legislature hereby declares that the laws of this State shall recognize the right of a person to make a written declaration instructing his or her physician to withhold or withdraw death delaying procedures in the event of a terminal condition.”



Living wills are one of the most effective estate planning mechanism to outline the disposition of property and assets, create guidelines for the future management of these assets, and generate reduced estate taxes.
A person who would like to declare intent to refuse life sustaining treatment must:

  • Be at least eighteen years old;
  • Make his or her living will in a form substantially similar to that offered in the Act; and
  • The living will must be executed, witnessed and authenticated or be in compliance with the law of Illinois.

A person may revoke his or her living will.  The revocation may occur through obliteration, written revocation upon communication to the attending physician, by authority of an agent, by oral expression or by execution of a subsequent living will.  Additional considerations may also include the Act’s allowance for a declaration specific to the provision of hydration and nutrition.  Whether a person considers these provisions to be life sustaining or comfort care should be discussed.