The Law in Your Life


Revoking a Living Will

A Living Will can be revoked in a number of ways. Tearing it up, marking it "revoked" or "canceled" will also serve to revoke this will, so long as the Declarant intended that it be revoked. We have provided one method by which to revoke your Living Will in writing - a Revocation of Living Will.

Several other ways to revoke a Living Will may not be so clear, and might surprise you. First, by making a new Living Will, you might revoke a previous Living Will.

Interestingly, courts are full of cases where people sought to simply add a new provision to their Living Will or to simply change one paragraph, or even a word, in the other Living Will. The problem is one of interpretation, and if there is any conflict between the first and the second Living Will, the court may declare the first revoked.

Also, making another legal document, such as a Durable Power of Healthcare, after the Living Will is made which is inconsistent with the provisions of the Living Will, might operate to revoke the Living Will.

In some instances, a court might indicate that a person's circumstances changed so much from the time the first Living Will was made, that this "changed circumstances" standard should be used to determine that the Living Will may be considered revoked. Of course, significant proof at the time of a legal battle would have to be presented by the person seeking to have the Living Will revoked. But it happens all the time.

Thus, it is critically important that if you are preparing a Living Will and a Durable Power of Healthcare [see the next section] you should prepare all of the documents regarding this subject at the same time, and that any updates or changes be made to the whole group of documents. It is important to realize that the changes in one may impact the effectiveness of the other.

Finally, there are some states that automatically revoke a Living Will after a number of years. Regardless of whether you have one, if it is more than the number of years set by the state, there may be a problem with it being honored at the time you seek to implement the provisions of this document. Your state's laws should be consulted to make certain that you know of any such provisions.

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