What is a Living Will?

A living will is nothing like the wills individuals usually make when they wish to leave property and belongings after their death. A living will, often referred to as a directive by doctors, is a document that lets people state their wishes for end-of-life medical care if they are unable to communicate their wishes. It holds no power after death.

If you are creating an estate plan, it is important to not overlook a living will. It can inform the decisions of your family members and healthcare workers if a person cannot openly express their wishes. Without this document physicians and family members will bear the burden guessing your wishes if you are seriously sick or injured. This can end in painful disputes which sometimes see the inside of a courtroom.

How a Living Will Works

doctor consulting patientMany states have simple forms for creating an advanced directive. Individuals can dictate their wishes with as much or as little information as they want. For example, it is common for people to ask for palliative care, or care to decrease pain and suffering, be administered. However, some people prefer that CPR not be used in certain circumstances at the end of life.

To be valid a living will must meet state requirements regarding notarization and witnesses. You can elect to revoke a living will at any time. The document takes effect as soon as it’s signed or when the person can no longer communicate his or her wishes about medical treatment. Even if it is in effect, physicians will always rely on personal communication until that is no longer an option.

How to Create a Living Will

The requirements for a living will differ from state to state so it is important to hire an attorney with estate planning experience. However, most people can create this document by using online services or software applications that accounts for your state’s laws. That being said, we always recommend that you consult with an estate planning attorney who can verify and validate the document.

If you are interested in creating a living will for yourself or someone you love, contact us today and we will get the ball rolling on this important document.