Making a Living Will

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The Difficult Task Of Making Living Wills

Preparing a living will is not an task that is going to be a cheerful task for most people. In fact, most of us would probably dread dealing with this task. However, there is a way to alleviate some of the unpleasantness.

It usually comes in the form of a living will kit, which can provide valuable guidance and assistance in the drafting of a living will minus the distasteful feeling of admitting the possibility of becoming ill to the point of incapacity.

A living will, which is also referred to as an "advance directive", is simplhy a legal document that clearly declares a person's preferences regarding long-term medical care at the time when he or she is no longer capable of autonomous decision-making.

Living Wills Come in Two Varieties:  General and Statutory

The general living will asserts personal wishes concerning long-term medical care without being consistent with any accepted standard. In contrast, the statutory living will is a lawful form that coincides with the requirements of a particular state law concerning living wills.

Because of the legal implications of making a living will, it is highly recommended, both by lawyers and sellers of do it yourself legal forms and software, to draw up one while you're still well and healthy. A lot of web sites on the Internet in fact offer information about this matter. You may even download free templates for living wills if you want to perform a run through. Just make sure that you seek professional advice when you actually draft the final one.

The Basic Prerequisites

Since any living will is also considered a personal document, its contents may vary on a case-to-case basis. However, there are essential prerequisites that render it legal.
  • Legal competence of the maker/owner of the living will should be definitively established.
  • Obviously, the document should be signed by the maker/owner and should also be read and signed by two witnesses. In case the owner/maker is incapable to sign, he or she may ask a representative to do so. These witnesses should also be of legal age (18 years old and over). Also, the selected representative of the maker of the living will should not be either of the two witnesses.
  • The date of preparation should be indicated and notarization must be done, if the state requires it.
  • The directives contained in the living will should be consistent with the laws of a particular state. In general, they should relate to cases wherein the owner/maker has been diagnosed of a terminal disease, or has been comatose for a period that's long enough to be considered permanent and any medical intervention would only function to maintain or prolong the current vegetative state.
As much as reasonable or possible, you should tell your family and/or closest friends about your living will. You may even assign somebody to act or make decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated.

In addition, copies of the living will should be given to the owner/maker's family members, the attending physician, the hospital/nursing home, and other persons involved in the medical care. A duplicate may also be submitted to a living will registry that will take care of the necessary distribution for a certain fee.

These days, a common question at admission to a hospital is, "Do you have a living will or advance directive?"  While a Power of Attorney can suffice in many situations, a living will is the preferred vehicle for expressing the wishes of the maker.

Modification of a Living Will

Living wills may also be fairly easily changed or modified. In case you ever decide to make necessary changes, you should notify and furnish copies to all the recipients of your previous living will. Aside from that, all copies of the former document should be consequently destroyed.

The preparation of living wills is a naturally emotional matter. Even a calm and sensible person may find it difficult to fully concentrate on the task.

That is why it is important to get all the possible assistance - both professionally and emotionally - when drafting a legal document such as this one.

Living Will Software

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Making a Living Will
Page Updated 12:35 PM Saturday 12/20/2014