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Living Wills 101

What Is A Living Will?

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A Living Will is a legal document which communicates your desires about your health care if you become unable to communicate by any means and the likelihood of death is imminent.

Virtually all states have laws requiring doctors and other health care providers to abide by what you provide in a Living Will if the document is properly executed.

In most states, even your close family members cannot override your wishes as expressed in a Living Will.

To be properly executed, a Living Will must meet each of the following requirements:

  • Conform to the laws in the state where you receive treatment.
  • Be signed by you at a time when you are competent to sign contracts and execute legal documents.
  • Be signed in the presence of witnesses and, in some states, a notary public.

Even if a Living Will is properly executed, it will have not become effective unless it is given to your doctor or other health care provider who is involved with your care when a decision about a treatment has to be made.

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