What Is A Living Will?

What Is A Living Will? - Lawyers - Family

If you are looking to get your legal affairs in order, you may be asking, “What is a living will?” A Living Will is a legal document that confirms your wishes about life-support in the situation where life-support will not help improve your quality of life. This document states whether or not you would like life-prolonging intervention, such as artificial feeding, in the event that you are not in an appropriate state to make the decision yourself.


In order to create your own Living Will, you must first have the capacity to do so. Capacity is a legal term that denotes the ability to make a legal decision. Every person over the age of 18 is presumed to have capacity, unless otherwise determined by a professional. Persons under 18 are presumed to lack capacity unless they undergo an examination by a doctor and are found to have the capacity to make healthcare decisions. In the healthcare environment, capacity means the ability to:

1. Appreciate the nature and implications of a healthcare decision.

2. Make an informed choice regarding the presented healthcare alternatives.

3. Communicate that choice in an unambiguous manner. (There must be no doubt about what you are trying to express).

The Living Will Document

The law requires that a Living Will must be:

1. In writing.

2. Signed by you or by another person at your direction in your presence.

3. Dated.

4. Signed in the presence of two or more persons who are at least 18 years old.

5. Signed by the people who watch you sign your name. A notary public must be present to acknowledge this.

Living Will templates for each of the 50 states are available at www.doyourownwill.com.


The law requires all Living Will witnesses to be over 18 years old. Additionally, the law says that the following people cannot be a witness to your Living Will:

1. The person who signed your living will on your behalf and at your direction.

2. Anyone who is related to you by blood or marriage.

3. Anyone who will inherit from you.

4. Anyone who is legally obligated to pay for your medical care.

5. Your doctor.

6. The person you have named as your Medical Power of Attorney or the person named as successor Medical Power of Attorney.

The Next Step

After you have made your Living Will you should give a copy to your doctor or caretaker. If you do not have a doctor, you should give a copy to someone else to give to a doctor in case you are not able to do so. It is your responsibility to make sure the doctor knows that you have a Living Will. If you have any questions about the process or particulars of creating a Living Will, it is best to consult a lawyer. TalkLocal will connect you with up to three lawyers in your area who will be able to help you.

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