Is a Notary Required for a California Living Will?

By Teo Spengler

Advanced health care directives allow you some control over end-of-life decisions. A living will is an advance health care directive in which you list out the types of medical treatment that are acceptable and unacceptable to you. Living wills are enforced in California if properly witnessed, although a notary is not always required.

Advanced Health Care Directives

The time may come when you are not able to make medical decisions for yourself. California residents can control these issues to some extent by making advanced health care directives, legal documents naming an agent to make medical decisions and setting up boundaries about the types of care received.

Power of Attorney and Living Will

California authorizes two kinds of health care documents. One is a durable power of attorney for health care, in which you identify the person you wish to manage your medical care if you become incompetent. The other is the living will in which you set out your decisions about end-of-life issues, like whether your life should be prolonged if you are in an irreversible coma.

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Witness Requirements

In California, you must sign your health care directive or else direct another adult to sign it in your presence. Your signature must then be acknowledged either by a notary public or by two adult witnesses. Employees of your health care provider or care facility are among those who cannot serve as witnesses.

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Illinois Laws on Wills

A valid will can nominate someone to manage your estate and detail how your property should be distributed when you die. In Illinois, wills must comply with the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which address requirements such as the age and mental condition of the person making the will. If your will doesn't meet these requirements, it may be declared invalid, and your estate will be distributed according to state law.

Is a Living Will Valid After Death?

When you become unable to make your own medical decisions, someone else must make those decisions for you. A living will communicates your wishes to medical providers and trusted friends and family when you can’t. Since a living will does not provide directions for what happens after a patient dies, it is not valid after death.

Medical Power of Attorney Explanation

When you are competent to make your own medical decisions, your health care providers rely on you to help determine what treatments are best for you. But if you become unable to make your own health care decisions, the person you name in a health care power of attorney will work with health care providers in your stead. For example, if you name your sister as the agent to make your medical decisions in case you become incompetent, she will direct your medical care if you later develop dementia that makes you incapable of making your own health care decisions.

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