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What Is A California Living Will And Why Do You Need One?


Some estate planning tools have names that sound and look alike, and because of this, it can be confusing for a person to decide which estate planning to go with. Two estate planning tools that have similar-sounding names and that many times cause confusion among people are “last wills (wills)” and “living wills.” Despite the similarity in the names, living wills are not the same as the other wills people make to describe how they want their assets distributed after their death.

So, what are the differences between a last will and a living will? A last will is a legal document, which communicates what you want to happen to your property after you die, among other things. On the other hand, a living will is a legal document allowing you to state your wishes for your end-of-life medical care. Generally, whereas a last will takes effect after a person’s death, a living will takes effect when an individual is still alive and has no power after death.

What Is a Living Will and What Does a California Living Will Do?

A living will is also called an “advance health care directive.” When you create a living will, you do so to allow other people to make medical decisions for you when you aren’t in a position to make those decisions yourself. A living will can be as broad as you want it to be. In your living will, you can give another individual the general power to make all sorts of medical decisions for you. On the other hand, in your living will, you can provide specific instructions about the actions you want to be taken and those you don’t wish to be taken when it comes to your health.

A California living will generally deal with end-of-life situations. For instance, with a California living will, you can spell out the medical treatment you want or don’t want doctors to use to keep you alive in the event of a terminal illness. You can also specify your preferences in terms of other medical decisions such as organ donation and pain relief in a living will. Generally, when it comes to pain relief, you can state in your living will that you want doctors to relieve your pain instead of trying to cure you. When it comes to organ donation, you can make it known in your living will if you would wish to donate your organs.

What Makes a Living Will Valid In California?

Generally, a valid California living will is one;

  • signed by the declarant
  • witnessed by two people
  • written voluntarily by a person who was of sound mind at the time of the writing of the document

It is vital to note that a living will is revocable at any time and in any manner, regardless of a declarant’s medical or physical condition. Once an attending physician is made aware of the revocation of a living will, the cancellation becomes effective.

Contact The Probate Guy for Help

Even though it might feel uncomfortable for you to think about these issues, it is necessary for you to think about them. Whether you are young or old, it wouldn’t hurt you to consider creating a living will. If you need advice on making or altering a living will, contact qualified California living will attorney, Robert L. Cohen of the Probate Guy to schedule a consultation.


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