What is a Living Will?

A living will is a document laying out instructions on what type of medical care they wish (or don't wish) to receive in the event that they become incapacitated, and unable to express their wishes. It can also designate a person who is authorized to act on your behalf, by granting them power of attorney. This ensures that there will be someone who has unambiguous authority to make decisions for you, so your wishes will be carried out, even if some members of your family don't agree with your decisions.

LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law

For instance, you might decide that, if you are in a permanent vegetative state, and there is no realistic chance of recovery, that you would want to be taken off of life support. On the other hand, you might want to hold out for a miracle, and instruct your doctors to keep you alive as long as medically possible. Whatever your choice, if they are not placed in writing, in a living will, your family may have no clue what you would want. And even if they did, there would be no guarantee that they would act according to your wishes. Read more.


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Living Will Requirements

In order to draft a living will, a few requirements must be met. First, you have to be a legal adult. This typically means that you must be 18 years of age or older. You also have to be deemed mentally competent to make these types of decisions for yourself.

Typically, in order to be valid and enforceable, a living will has to be signed by the person making it, and at least 2 witnesses. When the witnesses sign the will, they are affirming that, to the best of their knowledge, that you signed the living will voluntarily and appeared to be of sound mind while doing so.

Of course, there are many other details that go into making a living will. Because sudden illnesses and injuries can come out of nowhere, it's a good idea for just about anyone to have a living will. This is especially true for people in dangerous professions, or individuals who have had serious health problems in the past. If you think that a living will is for you, you should speak with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible.


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