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What is a living will?

As a resident of New York, you have the opportunity to create legal documents that could affect the terms of your medical care should you be rendered unable to consciously provide direction. One option you have is a living will. It is not the same as a will you would create to leave an inheritance to heirs. A living will, according to the New York State Bar Association, is a legal document that states your wishes as to what medical steps should be taken if you are to become unable to make decisions yourself.

The living will is only effective when your condition makes you unable to make your own decisions. This might include suffering irreversible brain damage or being in a vegetative state. Typically, it will outline what life saving or life maintaining efforts you want taken, such as resuscitation or life support measures. There is a space on the document where you can add other instructions as desired. You could include information about wanting to remain in your home or refusing pain medications.

You can complete a form available from the state to create your living will. You also must be at least 18 to legally create this document, and two witnesses over the age of 18 must sign it. It does not need to be notarized. It is important to note there are no laws in the state recognizing the validity of living wills, but they are generally observed as long as they have been properly completed. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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