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Living Wills Attorney Overview

Lawyer Assistance Creating Advance Directives

As a person gets close to the end of their life, they will want to make plans not only for what should happen after their death, but also for how certain matters should be handled while they are still alive, including the medical treatments they will receive. A living will can help ensure that one's wishes about this type of care are carried out correctly.

When creating a living will or other types of advance directives, it is important to work with a skilled estate planning attorney. An experienced lawyer can ensure that your legal documents follow the requirements of state laws while protecting your rights and ensuring that your needs are met.

What Is a Living Will?

Unlike a last will and testament, which describes how one's wishes should be carried out after their death, a living will specifies one's wishes for the medical care they should receive while they are still alive. A living will goes into effect if a person has a terminal illness and is incapacitated or unable to make decisions about their own medical care, and it describes the types of life-saving or life-prolonging treatments they do or do not wish to receive.

Each state has its own laws regarding living wills, specifying what conditions must exist for a living will to go into effect and the requirements that must be met when creating a living will. While some states require a living will to be signed in the presence of witnesses, others do not require witnesses, and some also require a living will to be notarized. Typically, a living will which has been executed in one state will be valid in another state.

While many state laws provide forms that can be used for a living will, it is best to work with an attorney when creating this type of document or other types of advance directives, such as a do-not-resuscitate order or power of attorney. An experienced lawyer can ensure that you have considered the potential circumstances which you will want your living will to cover, as well as the benefits and consequences of specifying what types of treatment you want to be performed or what medical care you would like to be withheld. They can also ensure that your living will follows your state's legal requirements and ensure that there is no ambiguity when the time comes for doctors or family members to interpret your wishes.

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