Does a Living Will Expire?

By Wayne Thomas

A living will provides you with the freedom to determine how medical decisions should be made in the event you become unable or unwilling to make them for yourself. The document also allows you to appoint a health care representative to act on your behalf to carry out these wishes. Although state laws can vary, living wills generally do not expire while you are alive, absent special circumstances or your express intent.

Living Wills

In most states, you are free to revoke a living will by simply communicating your intentions to your healthcare provider or attending physician. However, the document also can become ineffective if it is challenged and declared invalid by a court. For example, if you failed to follow the proper requirements under state law when you created the living will, such as not having the minimum number of witnesses, a court could rule it is invalid. Also, if you designated your spouse to be your health care representative, some states automatically remove her if you get divorced, unless you specifically provide otherwise in the document.

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Can the Next of Kin Overrule a Living Will?

When you can’t make health care decisions for yourself, your next of kin can step in to make those decisions for you. However, while you are still capable of making decisions, you can create a living will to document your health care wishes. When your documented wishes conflict with what your family wants, your physicians are supposed to follow the terms of your living will.

How to Write a Florida Living Will

When you are no longer capable of making your health care decisions, your physicians can rely on documents you create now to guide your treatment. Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes addresses these documents, called advance directives. Sections 765.303 and 765.304 give a suggested form for your living will and instructions on how to enact it.

The State of Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney

Most adults are capable of making their own healthcare decisions with the assistance of their physicians and loved ones, but sometimes they are not mentally capable of making these decisions. Both temporary and permanent conditions can render you unable to participate in your own healthcare decisions. Ohio law allows you to appoint someone else to make your healthcare decisions under a healthcare power of attorney, also known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare.

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