Preparing living wills is not an idea that is readily welcomed by a lot of people. In fact, most folks would even dread facing this task. However, there is something that could somehow alleviate the unpleasantness in the whole situation.
It usually comes in the form of a living will kit, which can provide guidance and assistance in the drafting of a living will minus the distasteful feeling of admitting the possibility of becoming ill to the point of incapacity.
A living will, which is also called an “advance directive”, is actually a legal document that declares a person’s preferences regarding long-term medical care at the time when he or she is no longer capable of autonomous decision-making. Living wills also come in two varieties: general and statutory.
The general living will asserts a personal wish without being consistent with any accepted standard. In contrast, the statutory will is a lawful form that coincides with the requirements of a particular state law concerning living wills.
Because of the legal implications of making a living will, it is highly recommended to draw up one while you’re still well and healthy. A lot of web sites on the Internet in fact offer information about this matter. You may even download free templates for living wills if you want to perform a run through. Just make sure that you seek for professional advice when you actually draft the final one.
The Basic Prerequisites
Since a living will is also considered a personal document, the contents may vary on a case-to-case basis. However, there are essential prerequisites that render it legal.
* Legal competence of the maker/owner of the living will should be established.
* The document should be signed by the maker/owner and two authenticate witnesses. In case the owner/maker is incapable to sign, he or she may ask a representative to do so. The witnesses should also be of legal age (18 years old and over). Also, the representative should not be any of the two observers.
* The date should be indicated and notarization must be done, if the state requires it.
* The directives contained in the living will should be consistent with the laws of a particular state. In general, they should relate to cases wherein the owner/maker has been diagnosed of a terminal disease, or has been comatose for a period that’s long enough to be considered permanent and any medical intervention would only function to maintain or prolong the current vegetative state.
As much as possible, you should tell your family or closest friends about your living will. You may even assign somebody to act or make decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated.
In addition, copies of the living will should be given to the owner/maker’s family members, the attending physician, the hospital/nursing home, and other persons involved in the medical care. A duplicate may also be submitted to a living will registry that will take care of the necessary distribution for a certain fee.
Living wills may also be changed or modified. In case you ever decide to make necessary changes, you should notify and furnish copies to all the recipients of your previous living will. Aside from that, all copies of the former document should be consequently destroyed.
The preparation of living wills is a naturally emotional matter. Even a calm and sensible person may find it difficult to fully concentrate on the task.
That is why it is important to get all the possible assistance – both professionally and emotionally – when drafting a legal document such as this one.