Planning

Living Wills

Resuscitation and life sustaining technology

A living will is used in cases of severe illness or injury, and doesn't affect what will happen after you've died. (It's quite different from a will or a living trust .) A living will gives instructions specifically regarding the use of life support technologies in the event of terminal illness or injury, and when and how these technologies should be used. Provisions of a living will are only followed when the individual is unable to communicate his or her wishes and is in a terminally ill or vegetative state. The living will gives directions under what conditions life-sustaining treatment should be terminated.

Online

You can create a living will online using one of several services. Of these services, www.medlawplus.com offers a free online trial and explains up front all the options you'll be filling in. This highlights an advantage of using online services - they're considerably cheaper than going to a lawyer. Many of these services charge far less than $100 US to generate all the necessary paperwork, and will usually be able to provide you with the same quality of information that a lawyer would.

Legality

In all states, the only necessities in making a living will legal are that the individual is of sound mind and body, and the document is uniform in appearance and signed by two or three witnesses who aren't family members. There are only three states that require a will to be notarized by an attorney. These are North Carolina , South Carolina and Tennessee (as of June 2005).

Witnesses

All 50 states require two witnesses to the signing of a living will. To be competent as witnesses, these individuals must be age of majority, with the mental capacity to know that they're acting as witnesses to a living will. They may be called on to testify with respect to the signing of the will. As well, witnesses must be impartial with respect to the living will. Family members, estate beneficiaries and anyone closely connected to the party are likely to be declared invalid witnesses. Living wills are provided with 'Attestation of Witnesses' provisions that give clear guidelines for who can be a witness.

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