Living Wills And You: 3 Commonly Asked Questions

Law Blog

Nobody looks forward to addressing their end of life decisions. Yet specifying your wishes in a legal document can be of great benefit--not just for your family but, in some cases, for you as well. If you are considering creating a living will but would like to learn more, read on. This article will address three commonly asked questions about living wills.

What is the difference between a living will and a regular will?

The type of will most people are familiar with--also known as a regular will--is used to determine how your possessions and assets will be disbursed after your death. On the other hand, a living will, also sometimes referred to as an advance health care directive, provides a legally binding overview of your end of life wishes regarding medical treatment and care.

Living wills are consulted in cases where an individual is no longer capable of making and/or expressing such decisions on their own. For instance, they often come into play for those who have suffered strokes, or are in comas. In the absence of a living will, there is no way to guarantee that the decisions made for you will be the same as those you would have made for yourself.   

Do I need to hire an attorney to create a living will?

Legally speaking, no, you are not required to consult or hire an attorney to create a living will. However, those without the requisite background often find the process more difficult than they had imagined. In such cases, a wills lawyer can offer a highly specialized body of knowledge. Their expertise will allow you to create a truly comprehensive document, taking into consideration a variety of circumstances and scenarios that may not have occurred to you otherwise.

If you have decided to draw up a living will by yourself, you make ensure that it complies with all of the relevant statues set out by your state of residence. In addition, to make it legally binding, your completed will must be notarized if your primary residence lies in Tennessee, North Carolina, or South Carolina. Without notarization, there is no guarantee that your directives will be obeyed.

Can I make changes to my living will later on?

Yes, you are free to redact or revise your will at any time. However, in order to ensure that the changes are binding, you must be sure to follow the same process used to create the original will. It is also your responsibility to make sure that copies of the revised version of the will are disbursed to the people you have entrusted to act on your behalf. Copies of previous versions should then be destroyed, in order to avoid unintended confusion.



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