Drafting a Living Will

A living will (or advance directive, as it is sometimes known) is not a part of your will—it is a separate document that lets your family members know what type of care you do or don’t want to receive should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It becomes effective only when you cannot express your wishes yourself. If your state recognizes a power of attorney for health care, have one executed to authorize someone to act in accordance with your present intentions.

In order to draft a living will you must first be 18 years of age and ‘sound of mind’. You cannot be under any duress in creating it and it is advisable to first speak with your medical professional(s) and family regarding what you want to happen if something should ever befall you that makes you unable to care for yourself. Then when you go about drafting your living will, all you need to do is formally state what you want to happen in order to avoid any confusion down the line. When finished the document must be signed by at least two people as witnesses and then notarized in order to be a legally recognizable living will (after which it cannot be altered without re-signing and notarizing it once more).

There are a few rules when creating a living will, including not being able to:

  • Ask for anything illegal such as euthanasia or help to commit suicide.
  • Refuse the use of measures solely designed to improve comfort, such as pain relief.
  • Demand care with the health care professionals and doctors consider inappropriate in the circumstances of the case.
  • Refuse the offer of food and drink by mouth.
  • Refuse basic nursing care which serves to maintain reasonable comfort such as washing, bathing and mouth care.

Be advised that a living will is a different document than a living trust, which is more of a document dealing with the holding of ownership to an individual’s assets during the person’s lifetime, and for the distribution of those assets after death without having to go through probate (as you would with just a will). Both a living will and a living trust are prefixed with ‘living-‘ because they are created during the grantor’s lifetime.

The end of your life is something you probably don’t want to dwell on, but thinking about what will happen to your loved ones and your assets and personal possessions is important. Making sure you’ve done all you can to make their lives easier will give you peace of mind. And once your will is drafted, you won’t have to think about it again unless something significant in your life changes.

Every country and state/province may have different statutes when it comes to drafting a living will, so be sure to contact a licensed professional lawyer in order to draft your will or at least read over it and make sure that everything is properly documented.

Category : Estate Planning &Will Contests

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