Is a Handwritten Addendum to a Living Will Legal?


A living will allows you to tell your family, loved ones and health care providers what kind of medical care you want to receive when you're too sick to express your desires. Each state has its own laws governing living wills, so talk to a lawyer if you need legal advice about creating a handwritten addendum to a living will in your state.

Living Wills

  • A living will contains your instructions and wishes about health care decisions if you fall seriously ill or otherwise become incapacitated. When you create a living will, you create a document that states what your wishes are. This document has to meet the standards imposed by state law. Though these standards differ, you must typically sign and date your living will upon creation and may have to have witnesses sign it as well, or even get it notarized.

Last Wills

  • A last will and testament is not the same as a living will, though states sometimes have special laws that apply to handwritten last wills. A handwritten last will and testament, sometimes called an holographic or olographic will, is one in which you write entirely in your own handwriting. In states that allow for such wills, you do not have to have these documents signed by witnesses for them to be valid. If the document is not entirely handwritten, you must have it signed by witnesses.

Addendums to a Last Will

  • When you want to change or modify your last will and testament, once option you have is through an addendum, also known as a codicil. Like the will itself, the addendum has to meet the state legal requirements before a judge will consider it a valid document. If your state allows for handwritten wills, you have to meet the requirements for such wills whenever you create an addendum.

Addendums to a Living Will

  • Unlike a last will and testament, states do not generally have different requirements for living wills based on whether you create them entirely in your own handwriting. This means that if you want to create an addendum to your living will, the document has to meet your state's requirements for living wills. This means that if, for example, your state require you to have your living will signed by witnesses or a notary, so too must any addendum or codicil, whether written by hand or otherwise.


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