A living will is different than a standard will in that it helps you control the extent of medical care you’d like to receive if you become gravely ill. You decide what happens to you in the event you are unable to actively voice your needs at the time of emergency.
You should use a living will if you:
- want to dictate which life-saving or life-prolonging measures should be used in any attempts to keep you alive;
- want to outline your preferred end-of-life medical treatments;
- are scheduled for a high-risk medical procedure;
- have been diagnosed with a terminal condition and/or are entering hospice.
Creating a Living Will
Every state has different variations on what it considers to be a legally binding living will. In the state of California, you will need to create a durable power of attorney for health care document and a document to explain the medical procedures you would like. For example, you could indicate you would rather have a certain pain killing drug over another. An estate planning attorney can help you create these documents.
Health Care Surrogate
California state allows you to designate your own health care surrogate. This person will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. If there is no clear plan laid out in the living will, the surrogate will make decisions they believe you would have made if you were able to do so on your own. You can designate an alternate surrogate to act on your behalf if the original surrogate is unwilling or unable to make a decision.
Finalizing the Living Will
To finalize the document, you need to have at least two witnesses observe you signing the living will. If you are unable to sign the living will at the time, the two witnesses must hear you give oral consent to the living will.
At least one of the witnesses:
- must not be a spouse or blood relative; and
- cannot be the health care surrogate.
You are not legally obligated to have your living will notarized once you have signed it. A copy of the document should be given to your surrogate, loved ones, and physician.
Reach Out to Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP
If you are thinking about creating a living will, our compassionate attorneys can help. We can work with you to create a living will that encapsulates your exact wishes in the event you are incapacitated due to illness or injury.