Many clients come for a consultation and say “I want a Living Will” or “I had a Living Will prepared a long time ago and I would like you to review it.” More often than not, the terminology is confused. Here are 5 things to know regarding a Living Will.

  1. A Living Will is NOT a Last Will and Testament. The purpose of a Living Will is a directive regarding withholding or withdrawal from life prolonging procedures when faced with a terminal condition. A Last Will and Testament disposes or personal property, addresses debt, contains the appointment of a personal representative and revokes prior Wills. They are not one in the same.
  2. Can I have a Living Will with no other planning? The short answer is yes, you can have only a Living Will executed. However, a Living Will alone is not broad. It is a directive in a narrow set of circumstances. Consider executing a Living Will if you have other planning in place, or supplement a Living Will with a health care surrogate.
  3. What is a health care surrogate and why is it different from a Living Will. A health care surrogate gives the authority to the person of your choosing during any incapacity. An example: a person is in a car accident and suffers an injury such that they are in a medically induced coma. A decision might be required for surgical options – this is where a health care surrogate would be involved. Alternatively, same car accident and the person suffers spinal cord damage where they are permanently incapacitated, and are medically supported for sustenance. This is where a person appointed in the Living Will would be consulted whether to continue life prolonging intervention.
  4. What is needed to execute a Living Will? Speak with an attorney familiar with this area of law, such as Shulman Law, regarding the drafting of your personalized Living Will. You will need to sign the Living Will in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom is neither a spouse nor blood relative, for it to be legally binding.
  5. Can I revoke a Living Will? Absolutely. You can revoke the Living Will in writing, by destruction, or other means. It is important to discuss the destruction with your attorney to determine if another document needs to be executed.

As with all legal documents, you should rely on the knowledge and expertise of attorney who specializes in this area of law. At Shulman Law, we can provide a comprehensive review of your estate, and determine what planning best suits you and your needs.

Shulman Law offers legal representation in Estate Planning, Succession Planning, Charitable Giving, as well as Criminal Defense Attorney services in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Ridge, Oakland Park, Wilton Manor, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point, Hollywood and throughout Broward County Florida.

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