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What is a living will?

In all likelihood, you have some pretty specific ideas about the type of medical care and treatment you want and do not want at the end of your life. But who will carry out your wishes when the time comes if you are too ill or incapacitated to make your wishes known? This is where a California living will can serve you well.

As FindLaw explains, your living will is considerably different than a “normal” will. In your regular will you specify who you want to receive your various pieces of property when you die. In your living will, however, you specify what types of medical care and treatments you want and do not want when your life comes to an end.

Living will provisions

You can make your living will as long and detailed as you wish with regard to your end-of-life care. For instance, most people include the following:

  • Which medical procedures, techniques and treatments they want, regardless of whether any of them may hasten their death
  • Which medical procedures, techniques and treatments they do not want, regardless of whether any of them may prolong their lives
  • Which of their organs, if any, they want to donate when they die
  • Whether or not they want the coroner to perform an autopsy on their body

Your attorney in fact

In addition to specifying the types of care you want and do not want at the end of your life, your living will also names the person, called your attorney in fact, who you want to carry out your wishes. You can name whomever you want, but it should not be someone who currently provides you with care. In addition, you should discuss your preferences with your potential attorney in fact ahead of time to make sure (s)he not only agrees with them, but also feels competent and willing to carry them out for you when the time comes. Even then, you may wish to name an alternate attorney in fact just in case your preferred person cannot carry out your wishes due to his or her own illness, incapacity, etc.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.