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IL Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What are the differences between a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA), Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and a DNR?

What are the differences between a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA), Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and DNR?

A Living Will informs others of your preferred medical treatment should you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to make or communicate decisions regarding treatment. In conjunction with other estate planning tools, it can bring peace of mind and security while avoiding unnecessary expense and delay in the event of future incapacity. 

The law allows you to appoint someone you trust to decide about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using a Health Care Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy where you designate the person or persons to make such decisions on your behalf. You can allow your health care agent to decide about all health care or only about certain treatments. You may also give your agent instructions that he or she has to follow. Your agent can then ensure that health care professionals follow your wishes. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent's decisions as if they were your own.  The health care power functions appropriately as long as you have named the correct agent.

 

As per the Chicago end of life coalition (http://www.cecc.info/resource-links/physicians-order-for-life-sustaining-treatment-polst/):

POLST stands for “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment”.  A POLST form is a signed medical order that travels with a person to assure that an individual’s treatment preferences at end-of-life are honored across all settings of care (hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility etc.).

POLST is designed for people who are seriously ill or have life-limiting illnesses. It is also appropriate for someone that will lose the ability to make health decisions for themselves, such as someone with dementia.

The POLST form:

  • Allows patients to create medical orders reflecting their treatment wishes at end-of-life.
  • Helps health care professionals know and honor the treatment wishes of their patients.
  • Allows emergency medical personnel to facilitate these wishes.

The POLST form is an advance directive in accordance with Illinois law. It is NOT intended to replace a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) form, but to be used in addition to this form. Therefore, this form is actually signed by your doctor and the patient.

 

As per the Illinois Department of Health, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) created a new Uniform Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Advance Directive form that offers Illinoisans more health care options. The DNR form is also designed for people who are seriously ill or have life-limiting illnesses.  An advance directive is a written statement you and your doctor prepare, about how you want your medical decisions to be made in the future if you are no longer able to make them for yourself. The new IDPH form adds a greater level of specificity when it comes to decisions about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and life support measures including being intubated, placed on a ventilator and fed through a tube. The new IDPH advance directive form also meets requirements to nationally be considered a physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) form. Therefore, this form is actually signed by your doctor and the patient. It is NOT intended to replace a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) form, but to be used in addition to this form.

 

Hence, these documents should only be signed in limited circumstances; whereas, Health Care Power of Attorney Forms should always be considered for individuals desiring to control medical decisions when they are not able to make these decisions themselves.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Should You Seek Out Umbrella Insurance?

Taken from March 23, 2014 Chicago Tribune

Should You Seek Out Umbrella Insurance?  Coverage isn't just for the rich, and it could offer peace of mind....by Leslie Mann

Your son blinds a playmate with his BB gun.  Your daughter rear-ends a car causing serious injuries to its driver.  A neighbor breaks his neck by diving into the shallow end of your swimming pool.  Your teenager's friend drinks liquor at your house, then paralyzes another driver in a car crash.  You serve on the board of a nonprofit that fails to pay its tax bill.

Which of these scenarios makes you a candidate for umbrella insurance?

All of the above.

Umbrella insurance gives you a layer of additional liability coverage, above the limits of your homeowners, renters, auto and other policies.  The liability portion of a typical auto insurance policy, for example, covers claims up to $500,000.  But if you or one of your family members causes a serious or fatal accident, the costs can easily run into the millions.  If you are sued, the umbrella policy covers the settlement, plus attorneys' and court fees.

Only about 10 percent of homeowners carry umbrella insurance, said a February 2013 Consumer Reports study.  But many more should, experts say.

"Some think umbrella insurance should just be for the rich," said Thomas Simeone, a personal injury attorney in Washington.  "Yes, the rich should have such a policy.  But so should anyone with significant assets."

"Significant" counts you if you have equity in your home or a decent income.

"I tell people, 'You don't have to be a millionaire to be sued like one,' said Ed Charlebois, vice president at Travelers Personal Insurance, who has seen clients sued for everything from hitting someone with a golfball to accidentally shooting someone with a gun.

Here's how it works:  You or a member of your family causes a serious injury, or an injury occurs on your property.  The injured party sues you.  A personal injury attorney who represents the injured party researches your insurance coverage plus your assets and income.  If your insurance is not adequate, the attorney "pursues your personal assets," Simeone said.  That is, the court can garnish your future wages and/or take money raised by liquidating your assets.

"We had one claim because a teen skier hit another skier, so the victim's family sued," Charlebois said.  "Their homeowners insurance kicked in, but the victim's medical bills were $500,000 and the homeowners policy only covered $300,000.  So the umbrella insurance covered the remaining $200,000."

"From the injured person's perspective, it's easier to collect from the insurance company than to chase down your assets," Simeone said.  From your perspective, it is easier to have insurance coverage than to lose your home, bank account and/or income in a lawsuit.

Most umbrella policies include sweeping coverage of property damage, bodily injuries and intangible injuries such as defamation of character.  But they vary, insurers warn.

For example, if your employer turned its staff into independent contractors to relieve itself of the burden of providing health insurance, you should look at an umbrella policy to cover you in liability lawsuits that arise as a result of conducting your daily business.

"If you're self-employed now, you have an added reason to own an umbrella policy, because you do not have an employer who is responsible for accidents while you're working." Simeone said.

"Look for the words 'business pursuits' to make sure they are included (in your umbrella policy)," Charlebois said.  "And make sure the policy would cover a lawsuit related to your type of business."  A house cleaner, for example, is subject to lawsuits regarding theft or damage in the home.  A writer, on the other hand, could be sued for libel.  To cover your business activities, you may need to buy a professional liability insurance policy.

Serve on the board of a nonprofit, and you can be personally liable for damage it causes.  The smaller the organization, the less likely it has insurance to cover its directors, so you may be vulnerable.

Having high-risk vehicles such as ATV's, boats and snowmobiles also triggers the need for umbrella policies, experts say.  Some umbrella policies exclude accidents caused by certain vehicles, though.

"Your (insurance company's) underwriter looks at the number of vehicles you own, it they are high-risk, who is driving them and what their driving histories are," said Christopher Hackett, director of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.  "And, he'll look at risks at your home such as a trampoline, zip line or pool, and if your pool has steps or a ladder for people to get out."

An umbrella policy also may exclude what attorneys call "intentional torts," such as assault and battery.  "Intent" is the key word, so the court would decide whether your son intended to punch that other person during that bar fight.

Make sure claims by uninsured motorists are covered by your umbrella policy.

While some auto insurance policies cover your losses when you venture across the border, expecially in Mexico or Canada, you may need an umbrella policy to cover your driving abroad, Hackett said.  "Read your policy and call your insurance agent before you drive (a vehicle) outside of the United States," Hackett said.

Here's the good news:  Compared with other types of insurance, umbrella policies are cheap.  You can get $1 million in coverage for about $200 a year, Charlebois said.  The next million costs about $75 more.  It is usually less expensive if you buy it from the same insurance company that sold you your auto and homeowners policies.  Then, if you are sued, you do not have to juggle different insurance companies.

"In our litigious society, few people are not candidates for umbrella policies," Hackett said.  "You think $1 million in auto coverage is a lot, but if you put a young person in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, his expenses will be huge."

Most umbrella claims Charlebois sees result from accidents caused by teen drivers, he said.  "So, if you have teens in your house, especially," he warned, "the light bulb should be going off."

 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Legacy Video: Last Gift from a Terminally Ill Loved One

Taken from The Wall Street Journal - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The day Michelle Wallace gave birth to her fourth child, her doctors discovered she was suffering from an advanced case of endometrial cancer.

Ms. Wallace worried she was going to die before her newborn son, Toby, grew up.  "Her biggest fear was that he was not going to remember her," says Kallie Greenly, Ms. Wallace's adult daughter.  So before she died in 2011 at age 43, Ms. Wallace recorded a 17-minute video for her son, talking about her life, her idea of happiness and how she wanted to be remembered. 

It is a step more terminally ill patients are taking these days, either on their own or with the help of non-profit groups specializing in what are called "legacy videos."  Just So You Know, the group that recorded Ms. Wallace's footage, offers its services free to patients at hospitals and cancer-patient conferences.  Another nonprofit group, Thru My Eyes, records videos free in patients' homes.

"I think there's a sense of relief" for patients who make the videos, says Danielle Gagner, a physician assistant at White Plains Hospital in New York who helps guide breast cancer patients through treatment.  "I think they feel they've left something for their family members, so they're at peace with that."

Diana Nash, a bereavement counselor in New York City, says the videos can give children and other relatives a lasting memento of a loved one.  Still, she says, "Sometimes it's hard for family members to see a video in the first couple of months after a person has died, because it's just too soon.  They're still in shock, they're still numb."  Legacy videos also can sometimes contain painful messages, overbearing advice or wishes that the children don't feel they can carry out.

Research has shown that improvements in mental health and general well-being can result when people have the chance to tell their stories.  In numerous studies, subjects who completed a daily writing exercise reported feeling more positive and less anxious, sleeping better and visiting the doctor less often, according to James Pennebaker, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Texas, Austin.  There has been less research on the effects of videotaped expression he says. 

Ms. Wallace decided to make her video on the spur of the moment, after coming upon a Just So You Know display at a conference for cancer patients in 2010, says Ms. Greenly, 25, of Refugio, Texas, who appears with her mother in the video.

Robin Weinberg, who founded Just So You Know in 2008, gave the two women a list of suggested discussion topics and left them alone in the taping room at the conference.

In the video, a teary-eyed Ms. Greenly asks her mother about happiness, her faults and strengths, her heroes and even her favorite curse word.  Asked what she would like people to remember her for, Ms. Wallace tears up, too.  "How much I love my family," she says.  "I know if I die before Toby is old enough to remember me, that's the one thing I would want everybody to share, is just how much I love my family".

Ms. Wallace died seven months later, when Toby was 2.  She never watched the video but was relieved to have made it and put it in a keepsake box for Toby, her daughter says.  Toby, now 5, recently watched the video, according to his father, Glen Bullock.

He says Toby recognized his mother but isn't sure what other impact it had on him, as Toby is still young.  "He was just like, that's my mom!" says Ms. Greenly.  "I know that as he gets older it'll be more important to him, more special."

Just So You Know, based in Westport, Conn., and Thru My Eyes, in Scarsdale, N.Y., operate mainly in the Northeast but have helped people make legacy videos elsewhere in the country.

 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why Do I Need DocuBank?

Some of my readers are already registered with DocuBank.  This blog reconfirms the importance of DocuBank.  For those who are not registered with DocuBank, I recommend you consider their services.

Be Heard

Of all your legal documents, your advance medical directives are the only ones that you may need access to quickly in an emergency.  Unfortunately, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, living wills are not accessible in 74% of cases when needed in hospitals. (JAMA, August 9, 1998, 274:278)

This means that 74% of all people who take the time to complete their living wills and other advance medical directives are still not having their wishes heard.  DocuBank helps to make sure that the documents you've completed will be there when they are needed most.  DocuBank transmits a client's advance medical directives to a hospital within moments, 24 hours a day/7days a week, around the world.

Peace of Mind

In addition to making sure that hospitals receive your documents within moments, DocuBank also supplies them with essential contact information.

When a hospital calls into our service they will receive a cover page listing your three Emergency Contacts with phone numbers as well as your primary doctor so that they can be reached in an emergency.  Make sure that your family and friends are notified by completing the Emergency Contact Information on your enrollment form.

Security and Convenience

DocuBank provides the security of your Safe Deposit Box and the convenience of your wallet.  Your documents are stored safely in our system and available immediately by using your Member Number and PIN Code located on your DocuBank Emergency Card.  Prevent the need for your loved ones to rummage through files trying to locate your documents.  Carry your DocuBank Emergency Card in your wallet and you carry your documents - a valuable service when traveling in your home town or overseas.

 

 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why Do I Need DocuBank?

Some of my readers are already registered with DocuBank.  This blog reconfirms the importance of DocuBank.  For those who are not registered with DocuBank, I recommend you consider their services.

Be Heard

Of all your legal documents, your advance medical directives are the only ones that you may need access to quickly in an emergency.  Unfortunately, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, living wills are not accessible in 74% of cases when needed in hospitals. (JAMA, August 9, 1998, 274:278)

This means that 74% of all people who take the time to complete their living wills and other advance medical directives are still not having their wishes heard.  DocuBank helps to make sure that the documents you've completed will be there when they are needed most.  DocuBank transmits a client's advance medical directives to a hospital within moments, 24 hours a day/7days a week, around the world.

Peace of Mind

In addition to making sure that hospitals receive your documents within moments, DocuBank also supplies them with essential contact information.

When a hospital calls into our service they will receive a cover page listing your three Emergency Contacts with phone numbers as well as your primary doctor so that they can be reached in an emergency.  Make sure that your family and friends are notified by completing the Emergency Contact Information on your enrollment form.

Security and Convenience

DocuBank provides the security of your Safe Deposit Box and the convenience of your wallet.  Your documents are stored safely in our system and available immediately by using your Member Number and PIN Code located on your DocuBank Emergency Card.  Prevent the need for your loved ones to rummage through files trying to locate your documents.  Carry your DocuBank Emergency Card in your wallet and you carry your documents - a valuable service when traveling in your home town or overseas.

 

 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Time to Make a Useful Journal of your Health

Taken from Chicago Tribune (August 21, 2011)

 

A written record of your health history can help prevent many medical errors, doctors say.  "If you record details when they're fresh in your mind, you won't forget to tell your doctor something important," says Dr. Michael Weaver, an associate professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.  Here's how to start:

  • Cover the basics ...Include major illnesses or injuries, chronic diseases, hospitalizations, surgeries, allergic reactions, immunizations, screening tests and your blood type.  Also list names and dosages of medicines and supplements (and check spelling; many have similar names).
  • ...but don't go overboard: You don't need to record minor illnesses such as colds or strep throat.
  • Go for dates. Whenever possible, include the date of events and new prescriptions.  List both the admission and discharge date for hospital stays.
  • Research your family history. Find out as much as you can about diseases and causes of death for your parents, grandparents, siblings and aunts and uncles.  Many illnesses have a genetic component.
  • Fill in holes.  Ask your doctor's office for copies of past medical records and read back as far as you can.
  • Record your symptoms.  If you have a long-term issue such as diabetes or chronic pain, write down blood sugar and pain readings and what was going on in your life at that moment.  Your doctor may be able to spot patterns and recommend lifestyle or medication changes.
  • Stay up to date. Note any new medication, symptoms or health emergency.
  • Bring your journal to your doctor. Carry it to even routine appointments.

 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Questions You Should Ask About Home Aides

Taken from the Chicago Tribune 8/12/12:

In addition to checking whether an agency is licensed by the state health department, consumers should ask other questions before a paid caregiver comes into their home.  Northwestern University researchers have put together a checklist of questions to ask:

  • How does the agency recruit caregivers, and what are its hiring requirements?
  • What types of screenings are done before a caregiver is hired?  A federal or state criminal background check?  Drug screening?  Something else?
  • Is the caregiver certified in CPR?  Does he or she have any other health-related training?
  • Is the caregiver insured and bonded through the agency?
  • Does the caregiver have the skills you expect? (These could include lifting and transfers, homemaking and personal care such as bathing, dressing or toilet assistance, among others.)
  • How does the agency assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
  • What is the agency's policy if the regular worker cannot provide the contracted services?  Will a substitute be provided if you are dissatisfied with a particular caregiver?
  • Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis?  How frequently?
  • Does supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports or in-person at the home of the older adult?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life's Simple 7: Seven Steps to a Healthier Heart

Taken from the American Heart Association:

 

No matter where you are in life, it's never too late to make better health choices.  All you need is a goal, a plan and the desire to live better.

 

You can achieve excellent cardiovascular health by keeping seven factors in check.  They're known as Life's Simple 7:

  • Don't smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products.
  • Keep a healthy body weight (body mass index less than 25 kg/m.  To find your body mass index, multiply your weight in pounds by 703 and divide by your height in inches.  Then divide again by your height in inches).
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (or a combination) each week.
  • Eat a healthy diet consistent with current recommendations from the American Heart Association.
  • Keep total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL.
  • Keep blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Keep fasting blood glucose less that 100 mg/dL.

 


Friday, June 8, 2012

Did you forget to register? Limited Seating Still Available!

 

Did you forget to register for one of two FREE informative workshops presented by Lifecare Innovations and Stephen Sutera?

 

Life Care Plans: The Other Half of Every Estate Plan

It's not too late to join us! 

Register online at www.suteralaw.com or call our office at (708)857-7255

June 12th at 6:30pm at

Benedictine University in Lisle

-or-

June 14th at 6:30pm at

Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights

                                                                                                               Presented by:

Life Care Innovations—Martha Kern & Lori Lomahan

Law Offices of Stephen Sutera—Stephen M. Sutera, PC

 

“Good plans shape good decisions…good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”

- Lester Robert Bittel, writer


Friday, April 27, 2012

Life Care Plans: The Other Half of Every Estate Plan

Life Care Plans: The Other Half of Every Estate Plan

“Good plans shape good decisions…good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.”

- Lester Robert Bittel, writer

  • Are you at or approaching retirement age ?
  • Are you concerned that you may outlive your life’s savings ?
  • Are you facing challenges of caring for a frail loved one ?
  • Are you aware of your best options for long term care or housing ?
  • Are you concerned about losing control of your life’s destiny ?

Don’t miss one of these free informative sessions 

presented by:

Life Care Innovations—Martha Kern & Lori Lomahan

Law Offices of Stephen Sutera—Stephen M. Sutera, PC

Mark your calendar!

June 12th at 6:30pm at

Benedictine University in Lisle

-or-

June 14th at 6:30pm at

Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights

Light refreshments will be served. Seating is limited - more information to come!

 

 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wealth Counsel Membership

Our law office is a member of the WealthCounsel, LLC, (www.wealthcounsel.com). The WealthCounsel, LLC, is a cooperative alliance of nationally recognized estate planning attorney members from across the country. Together we provide one another with the support and tools needed to serve our clients better.

Being a member of the WealthCounsel, LLC, means that we are in close contact with other member attorneys nationwide in our mutual attempts to:

  • Better serve our clients in a caring and professional manner
  • Stay absolutely cutting edge in our respective knowledge of estate planning law and innovative estate planning techniques
  • Share practice ideas with one another — as we develop them independently in our practices — that will better accomplish our clients' objectives
  • Bring our clients the finest estate planning advice and documentation possible, and to do so with dignity and professionalism within the ethics of our profession

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With two offices in Oak Lawn and Oak Brook, Stephen M. Sutera assists clients throughout Cook County, DuPage County and Will County IL including Chicago, Hometown, Barrington, Burbank, Burr Ridge, Chicago Ridge, Darien, Downers Grove, Evergreen Park, Geneva, Worth, Bridgeview, Palos Park, Palos Hills, Palos Heights, Hickory Hills, Midlothian, Willow Springs, Oak Forest, Orland Park, La Grange, Brookfield, Berwyn, Tinley Park, Hinsdale, Villa Park, Clarendon Hills, Westchester, Westmont, Lombard, Elmhurst, Western Springs, Berkeley, Downers Grove, Fox Valley, Glen Ellyn, Willowbrook, Aurora, Addison, Lisle, Forest Park, Bensenville, Wheaton, River Forest, Itasca, Shorewood, Frankfort, Mokena, Naperville, Crest Hill, Homer Glen, New Lenox, Bollingbrook, Schaumburg, Channahon and Woodridge.



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| Phone: 708-857-7255
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| Phone: 630-396-6800 | 708-857-7255
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