Are Living Wills Valid?
Many states recognize that their residents can make valid Living Wills. However, you should understand that Living Wills are not valid in every state. Also, you should know that the sample Living Wills set forth here may not meet the requirements of any particular state. You should always consult an attorney to prepare documents that will be valid in your state. However, by preparing this document, even if it does not comply with every provision of state law, it may be influential in at least convincing your own family members of your wishes.
One of the most important things to remember is that in many states in order for a Living Will to take effect, you may not have to be diagnosed with any terminal illness. However, some states require that a Living Will may not be effective until you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
As with all of the legal documents and information provided here, you should always make sure of the law in your state. This document discussion and the document itself is designed solely to help you understand these processes and to think about all of the concerns important to you. You cannot use the forms on this site to handle your situation and be certain that they will cover your situation 100% of the time. Your lawyer, or one of the lawyers available through your Family Legal Access Plan, if you are a member, can best assist you with the preparation of the correct documents for your situation.
One question almost everyone asks attorneys is this: Are Living Wills binding upon doctors and hospitals? The answer to this question depends upon which state you live in, as many states will require doctors and hospitals to follow these documents and even impose criminal penalties on them for failing to follow such documents. Other states recognize the validity of these documents, but will not require physicians or hospitals to follow their provisions. An incentive for physicians or hospitals to follow these documents is a practical one. They will substantially eliminate their personal liability, if they were to be sued, if they follow the provisions of such a document; while their failure to follow these documents might give rise to a potential liability. For this reason, there is an excellent possibility that physicians and hospitals will follow your properly written Living Will.