Living Wills  

Living wills are informal documents that are used to inform medical personnel that the signer of the living will wants to die a natural death and does not want medical treatment in certain circumstances.  The term "living will" is sometimes used as a generic name for other types of health care documents, such as an advance health care directive.

The advantages of a living will are that it is simple to prepare, does not require a lawyer's assistance, and does not follow any particular format.

However, the disadvantages are numerous: Lack of notarization or witnessing can raise questions about the document's validity, the mental capacity of the signer, or whether the document has been signed under coercion or undue influence. Also, a living will does not have any statutory authority.  In other words, it may be a waste of time to sign a living will.

Instead of a living will, you should consider an advance health care directive. This document is notarized or witnessed, and its use and general format has been approved by the state. 


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