What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document that authorizes what type of medical care you want to receive while you are alive. The living will provides a roadmap for your family and healthcare providers about what health care measures you find acceptable or unacceptable if you are incapacitated. It acts on your behalf when you are unable to; it speaks for you when you are unable to speak.

Due to the nature of your request, it is important to discuss the options with your medical provider prior to deciding what information you want to include in your living will. It is also important to make sure that your doctors and your family have access to your living will if they need guidance about the medical care you are choosing or rejecting. This takes the guesswork out of what your intentions might be and it clarifies your wants.

Even though you may be incapacitated, you still have this opportunity to dictate how you wish to be cared for by the doctors. A living will is the only means available to ensure that all of your end-of-life wishes for medical care are kept. Everyone should have a living will.

Who distributes the assets once you die?

If you have a last will and testament, it appoints a personal representative who oversees the execution of your estate. You appoint the personal representative when you draft the will. You appoint this person because you deem them trustworthy and capable of administering your estate affairs. Choosing a personal representative is an important step in drafting a last will and testament and much thought must be put into it.

Who can be in the room as I draft my will?

To avoid any conflict of interest or undue influence, no one should be present in the room while a person is drafting a will except for their attorney. By having a third party in the room, they can be perceived as unduly influencing or coercing. This may cause undue litigation and any person who believes they should have been beneficiaries of the estate will have an opportunity to contest the will. Separation from all family and friends during the drafting of a last will and testament and other estate planning documents is necessary to preserve the wishes of the client and to help avoid costly litigation.