How Wills Work

Living Wills

Living wills have become very popular in recent years.
Living wills have become very popular in recent years.
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The term living will is somewhat misleading, as it has nothing to do with personal property or assets. Living wills are documents that outline a person's health care wishes in case of a severe injury or illness. They've become increasingly popular over the years as medical technology has achieved the ability to keep terminal patients alive for indefinite periods of time.

As with a last will and testament, the laws that govern living wills vary from state to state, and it's important that they're drafted with this in mind. The terms for life-threatening conditions are very specific, so a great deal of time should be invested in researching them. If not, the will can be challenged by family members who want to see their loved one kept alive at any cost.

Living wills are required to be signed and witnessed, and a power of attorney is commonly included in case the terms of injury or illness aren't covered. In this case, the person designated power of attorney, typically a spouse or parent, has the right to decide whether or not to keep their loved one alive or to "pull the plug." Many people don't wish to be kept alive by artificial means at the monetary expense and mental anguish of their families. Many people would prefer to be kept alive no matter what. In either case, it's very important that you draft a living will so your wishes are honored. There are simple DIY forms on the Internet for each state that can be filed for little cost. You can read more about living wills in the HowStuffWorks article How a Living Will Works.


In the next section, we'll take a look at some of the most famous and outrageous wills people have made.

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