A will is an important estate planning document that sets forth how a Pennsylvania resident wants their property and assets given out when they pass away. Through their will a person can choose who receives their money and possessions and if they wish to include or exclude parties from benefitting from their estate. Other estate planning tools like trusts also may serve important roles when individuals pass on; some estate planning devices, however, are crucial during individuals’ lives.

One tool that falls into the latter category is a living will. Living wills are also called advanced care directives and they concern how people receive medical treatment when they are unable to communicate their preferences. Through a living a person may declare if they want life-saving treatments used to prolong their existence or if they wish to receive fluids and food while in an incapacitated state.

The requirements for creating legal living wills are established by Pennsylvania law. Not everyone can create one, as only adults, married people, or those who have graduated from high school may do so. Living will documents must be signed by their creators as well as two adults who serve as witnesses.

As with other estate planning tools, individuals who wish to create living wills must be of sound mind. That means that they must understand what they are drafting and the effects that their legal documents will have in the future. If a person lacks the mental capacity to create a living will then their executed document may not be considered valid later on.

Living wills help individuals protect their wishes with regard to health care decisions during their lifetimes. The inclusion of a living will in a person’s estate plan is an effective way to protect their interests and help them communicate their desires to others. Estate planning attorneys should be contacted by readers who want more information about living wills as this post does not offer any legal advice.