Can I Fill Out My Own Living Will and Have it Be Legal?

by A.L. Kennedy
Your living will tells your doctors what to do if you are incapacitated.

Your living will tells your doctors what to do if you are incapacitated.

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Your living will is a legal document that explains the kind of medical care you do and do not want to have if you become incapacitated. It provides guidance to your family and your physicians when you are unable to tell them yourself what you want. Most states follow the Uniform Health Care Decisions Act, which allows you to fill out your own living will and have it be legal.

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Format

Your living will must be in writing to be valid, according to MedLaw Plus. You can either type or write your living will longhand. You can even use a form in which you fill in the required information. The Uniform Health Care Decisions Act includes a sample form which you can use to make your living will, but this form is not required. Your physician or hospital may also be able to provide you with a form or instructions for writing your living will.

Signature

In order to be legal, your living will must bear your signature. A living will form usually provides a space for your signature and the date at the bottom of the form. If you are writing your living will without using a form, sign and date your will at the bottom of the last page. Remember to include the day, month and year in the date. This may prevent confusion about which living will is in effect if you later decide to write a new living will with different instructions.

Witnesses

Most states require at least two witnesses to sign your living will in order for it to be legal. These witnesses should first watch you sign, then each should sign below your name to indicate they saw you sign your own living will. Your witnesses should be at least 18 years old and mentally able to understand what they are witnessing, according to the Uniform Health Care Directives Act. In addition, they should not be medical professionals who are treating you or the person who has power of attorney for your healthcare needs, according to MedLaw Plus.

Exception

As of December 2010,l only Nebraska has not adopted the Uniform Health Care Directives Act. Nebraska state law does, however, allow residents to make living wills which should be signed by two witnesses or a notary. Your witnesses cannot be related to you or be your medical professionals.