A living will is not the same as a last will and testament. A living will is a document that lets you express your preferences for medical care in case you become unable to communicate them yourself. A living will can help you avoid unwanted or unnecessary interventions, such as life support, resuscitation, or tube feeding, that may prolong your suffering or go against your values. A living will can also help your family and doctors make difficult decisions on your behalf, and reduce the potential for conflicts or disputes. A living will should be prepared separately from your last will and testament. Your last will and testament only takes effect after your death, while your living will takes effect while you are still alive but incapacitated.
To make a valid living will, you need to follow some basic steps:
- First, you need to decide what kind of medical treatments you want or don't want in different scenarios, such as terminal illness, permanent unconsciousness, or irreversible brain damage. You can specify whether you want to receive artificial life support, resuscitation, organ donation, tube feeding, pain relief, or palliative care. You can also state whether you want your organs to be used for research or transplantation.
- Second, you need to write down your wishes in a clear and specific way. You can use a standard form or template, or create your own document. You can also consult with your doctor, lawyer, or estate planner for guidance and advice. You should avoid using vague or general terms that may cause confusion or ambiguity.
- Third, you need to sign and date your living will in front of two witnesses who are not related to you by blood or marriage, and who are not beneficiaries of your estate. You should also have your signature notarized by a public notary for extra validity and security.
- Fourth, you need to inform your family, friends, doctors, and health care providers about your living will and give them copies of it. You should also keep a copy for yourself in a safe and accessible place.
You can also register your living will with a national or state database that can be accessed by medical professionals in case of emergency.
A living will is not set in stone. You can change or revoke it at any time, as long as you are mentally competent and follow the same steps as above. You should review your living will periodically and update it if your circumstances or preferences change.
A living will is a powerful and personal document that can help you protect your dignity and autonomy at the end of life. It can also give you peace of mind and comfort knowing that your wishes will be respected and honoured.
Should you require professional advice in this regard to not hesitate to contact our offices for professional advice in this regard.