How to Prepare a Living Will

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Prepare a Living Will
Prepare a Living Will

How to Prepare a Living Will. A living will is the best way to manage your own health care and assets, should you be unable to make decisions yourself. Having a living will takes the guesswork out of your health care for your family, loved ones and physicians. Should you have an accident or medical condition that places your body in a permanent vegetative state, a living will instructs others on what type of treatment you would prefer.

Things You'll Need

  • Attorney
  • Safe deposit box
  • Living will paperwork
  • Two witnesses

Explore all of the health care options provided in a living will. This includes "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) orders, feeding tubes and oxygen supply directives. You can decide to have one form of a support system (such as a feeding tube) supplied to you, while electing not to have another form of life support.

Make an appointment to see your family doctor to discuss the pros and cons of life-support systems. A doctor can explain the medical side of life support to help you decide how you want your health care handled.

Contact your local hospital or physician's office for preprinted forms meant to serve as a living will. Your state government or local charity may also have the forms. Some office supply stores offer software for preparing a living will.

Distribute copies of your living will to the appropriate parties. This includes your attorney (if you use one), family physician, local hospital and other health care providers. Keep the original, signed copy in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or safe, and tell your loved ones how to access the original.

Check with local attorneys and find one who specializes in estate planning or general law. This may cost more than preparing a living will yourself; however, the attorney can ensure there are no mistakes or oversights. The attorney will also sign the papers and have two other staff member serve as witnesses, should a question of legitimacy of the document arise.

Advise your attorney if you change your mind or wish to revise your living will. Set up an appointment to meet with her as soon as you decide on a change. A new living will takes the place of any former living wills.

Tips & Warnings

  • Discuss your wishes with your loved ones and physicians so they are clear on what type of care you want in the future.
  • If you choose to prepare a living will yourself, you will need to have two people witness your signature. It is best to have two disinterested parties be witnesses. A disinterested party is someone who does not stand to inherit or benefit from your estate should you pass away.
  • Many hospitals ask you if you have a living will when you are being admitted for surgery. In the operating room, however, a living will is not valid. It is the responsibility of the surgeon and staff to make every effort to save a patient. It is important to discuss this aspect of a living will with a doctor or surgeon before your operation.

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