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Illinois Living Wills Laws

A living will is a legally binding document that expresses an individual's end-of-life preferences, such as whether that person wants to be kept alive through artificial life-support apparatus. While not technically a will, states recognize the authority of living wills. Illinois' living wills law explicitly states that an individual suffering from a terminal condition who is no longer able to make such lucid decisions may forego any "death-delaying procedure" if he or she has expressed this in a living will.

The main elements of Illinois living will laws are highlighted in the following table. See FindLaw's Living Wills section to learn more.

Code Section 755 ILCS 35/1, et seq. Illinois Living Will Act
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Individual may execute document directing that if he is suffering from a terminal condition and no longer able to participate actively in decisions about himself, then death-delaying procedure shall not be utilized for the prolongation of his life. These procedures include any which serve to postpone the moment of death and specifically include, but are not limited to, assisted ventilation, artificial kidney treatment, intravenous feeding/medication, blood transfusions and tube feedings, but does not include procedures providing for patient's comfort care or alleviation of pain
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Sound mind and age of majority or status of emancipated person (sample form at 35/3e); (2) signed by declarant or another at declarant's direction; (3) 2 witnesses over 18; (4) not pregnant (or at point where could develop to point of live birth with continued application of death delaying procedures); (5) notify attending physician
Revocation of Living Will Revocable by declarant at any time without regard to mental or physical condition (1) in writing signed and dated by declarant or person acting at his/her direction; (2) by oral expression in presence of witness who signs and dates a written confirmation; (3) by destroying declaration in manner indicating intent to cancel; revocation is effective upon communication to attending physician
Validity from State-to-State Declaration executed in another state in compliance with law of that state or Illinois is valid
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Living Will Patient is responsible to initiate transfer; if patient not able to initiate transfer then attending physician shall without delay notify person with highest priority who is available, able, and willing to make arrangements for transfer for effectuation of patient's declaration
Immunity for Attending Physician No physician, health care provider, or health care expert who in good faith and pursuant to reasonable medical standards causes or participates in withholding or withdrawal of death delaying procedure from qualified patient per declaration shall be subject to criminal or civil liability or be found to have committed an act of unprofessional conduct

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an Illinois estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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