What's a Living Will?

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What's a Living Will?

A living will contains instructions to be carried out in the event that you become too ill or incapacitated to make legal decisions for yourself. Also called a health care directives or advanced medical directives, living wills are often made early on life, before anything can happen that might take the person by surprise. As such, it is a good way to protect yourself and your assets in the event of unexpected tragedy.

What Belongs in a Living Will?

Living wills often contain instructions regarding the type of medical treatment that the person drafting the will would like to receive. For example, instructions are often offered regarding:

Making a living will can also involve other considerations aside form heath care, such as:

Can a Living Will be Contested?

Living wills can sometimes be contested or adjusted after they are enacted. Usually, the living will becomes "active" when the conditions listed in the document occur (such as the onset of a terminal illness or incapacitation). After this point, the person may no longer be able to make legal decisions. Thus, the living will may appoint a person who will be authorized to make legal actions on behalf of the person.

If any legal disputes arise, it will be up to the appointed person to make legal decisions or responses. This is why it’s important that the living will be as clear as possible, so that conflicts may be resolved if necessary in the future. However, like any written document or contract, it may be difficult to contest or dispute the actual written contents of the living will provisions.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With a Living Will?

You may need to hire a lawyer if you need help writing, editing, reviewing, or contesting a living will. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice on your documents, and can ensure that they are valid under state laws. Also, if a legal dispute arises, a qualified attorney can help represent you during court litigation proceedings.

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Last Modified: 10-08-2013 02:34 PM PDT

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