How Long Do Hospitals Keep Living Wills?

by Teo Spengler
A living will speaks for you when you cannot speak for yourself.

A living will speaks for you when you cannot speak for yourself.

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Don't put that living will in your safe or secret drawer. Living wills are only of use if you become incompetent, and they do no good unless they accompany you to the hospital or care facility. A hospital must retain your living will as long as you are an in-patient in the care of its staff.

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Living Wills

It's easy to get confused about living wills, since the document has nothing to do with leaving assets to heirs. A living will is a legal document in which a competent person sets out the types of medical treatments she wants and those she does not want in case she becomes incompetent. Living will forms are available from the court and from online legal services providers.

Storing Living Wills

A copy of a living will is a valid legal document, so it pays to make sufficient copies to give to your medical providers, hospitals in your area, family members and friends. You might also keep one in your glove box. You always want to take a copy when you head for the hospital and give it to the admissions clerk. Hospitals may not be legally obligated to retain the living wills of people who are not currently in-patients, but many do so as a community service.