Many people come into my office requesting or asking about a living will, and most misunderstand the term. A living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent. A living will is for medical purposes and wishes.
A lot of individuals confuse a living will with a last will and testament. The last will and testament, not the living will, is the document which states whom inherits your property after you die.
A living will can range from the very simple to the very complex, depending on the client’s medical needs and wishes. Typically, healthy adults do not need an extensive living will but only require a basic living will that provides simple guidance to their health care power of attorney. However, to be clear, everyone does need a living will, and it is a vital part of any individuals estate plan.
In Idaho we have what is called a statutory living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare. See Idaho Code Section 39-4510. This is a form created by the Idaho Legislature to provide a uniform living will for individuals in Idaho. In my practice I utilize the statutory living will with some slight modifications because health care professionals are very familiar with the form and it is accepted throughout Idaho. Even though there is a statutory living will, this does not mean you shouldn’t consult an estate planning attorney before executing such a document. Unfortunately, the current statutory living will form can be a bit confusing to people who have not dealt with these types of documents before. You can contact my office if you wish to have a free consultation to discuss executing a living will.