The people closest to you know more about you than most people. They probably know your favorite restaurant or what you like to do on the weekend. But do your friends or family know your wishes for end-of-life medical care? For most people, the answer is probably no.

However, knowing the answer to these questions is important, as is creating estate planning documents that prepare you for the future. Thankfully, a document known as a living will gives you the opportunity to create binding written instructions on how you would like to be cared for in cases where you cannot make your own medical decisions. If you have questions about living wills in Moorestown, an experienced wills attorney might be able to help.

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that is commonly referred to as a health care directive. Despite the name, this document is very different than the last will and testament common in estate planning. Instead, this document provides loved ones and medical professionals with guidance on medical decisions in cases where the creator can no longer make them on their own. Living wills often come into play during end-of-life care.

Reasons to Pursue a Living Will

A living will offers loved ones instructions to follow in case the creator of the document becomes physically or mentally incapacitated and is unable to act on their own. This authorization might become necessary if someone falls into a coma, experiences dementia, or develops a terminal illness. These documents are often used at the end of a person’s life, but it is also possible for a living will to remain in place temporarily during a person’s recovery from injury.

Living wills can even provide instruction for other decisions like organ donation or any end-of-life decisions that have been made. A knowledgeable Moorestown lawyer could further explain the benefits of living wills and help a family decide whether these arrangements are right for them.

Drafting a Valid Living Will

It is not enough to simply write down preferences and hope that a loved one will comply with them. According to the law, a living will has to meet some specific requirements to be valid. For instance, a living will must be authored by someone who is capable of making medical decisions.

There are also technical requirements that must be met. A living will must be in writing and feature the creator’s signature. This signing must occur before witnesses that can attest that the signing occurred. Ideal witnesses to the signing of a living will could be an attorney in Moorestown, a notary, or two independent witnesses who are able to confirm the creator was not under any duress when they executed the document.

Is it Possible to Change a Living Will?

It is not possible to alter the instructions of a living will. To change or revoke a living will, an individual must create and sign a new directive that specifically revokes the original document. Alternatively, they could clearly state in writing that the older directive is no longer valid.

Call an Attorney About a Living Will in Moorestown

Living wills in Moorestown are useful tools for you and those you love. In many cases, they could be the only thing that ensures you receive the medical care and treatment you deserve after you become unable to make important decisions. There are some nuances to understand with these documents, so meeting with legal representation to discuss living wills is key. Reach out to our office today to schedule your consultation and learn more about these powerful estate planning documents.