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Living Will

Definition - What does Living Will mean?

A living will is a legal document which outlines a person's desired medical treatments in the event they are incapacitated and cannot make their own decisions. A living will is often referred to as a health care directive, physician's directive, or advance directive. The living will remains effective until it is either revoked or until death.

If a living will is in place it will allow a health care representative to make medical decisions, in good faith, on your behalf. The healthcare representative is any adult, such as a friend or family member, who is willing to serve. Consider, however, your attending physician and employees of a care facility may not serve unless as a healthcare representative unless that person agreed to act on your behalf before he or she became employed at the facility.

Choosing a healthcare representative

Before choosing a healthcare representative it is important to ensure they are comfortable with your wishes. Talk to them about anything which could be a hindrance to their duties. Choose someone who is mature and responsible. It is also important to select an alternative agent if your primary agent is unwilling or unable to carry out your wishes.

Can I revoke my medical directive?

A medical directive can be revoked at any time, assuming you are mentally competent to revoke it. The medical directive can be restarted at any time or you may create a new directive.

Your living will should also be updated if there have been any significant life events. For example, if your wife is your healthcare representative but you have divorced, it might be time to identify a new healthcare representative. If you move to a new state you will also need to update your living will; different states may have different requirements. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about updating your living will.

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