What is a living will, and how does it work?

What is a living will, and how does it work?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | ELDER LAW - Estate Planning

Various legal documents can help you prepare for different unpredictable life events, including incapacity related to medical emergencies. In these instances, it could be vital to establish who can decide on your behalf when you cannot do so for yourself. Living wills exist to address these situations, also known as advance directives.

This document has a specific function: expressing your preferences and wishes concerning medical care, including a designated person who can make decisions for you in scenarios excluded from the will. This type of will can be helpful in unexpected medical incidents, helping lighten the load on your family members so they can focus on you and your welfare.

Having a functioning living will

A living will can only be functional under specific circumstances. Firstly, you should give or share a copy with trustworthy people, such as family members, health care providers and your attorney. If you fail to take this step, it might have no bearing despite its existence.

Additionally, the document must meet requirements set by state law to become valid. In New Jersey, you would complete a form, sign it and include signatures of two other witnesses. Because of variations in state policies, you can consider adjusting your will or creating different versions that comply with the regulations within the states where you usually reside.

Drafting a living will appropriately

Creating a living will can come with complications, which could be typical for all legal documents. In these situations, seeking legal counsel before drafting the document can be beneficial. Experienced guidance can help you determine what to include in your living will and choose other appropriate legal tools to help you prepare for any uncertainties.