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Living Wills in Berks County & Surrounding Areas
Making Your Final Wishes Known
A living will is a legal document that allows you to express your final wishes in the event that you become incapacitated. This can include things such as whether you would like to be kept on life support or not.
Without a living will, your loved ones may have to make difficult decisions about your medical care based on their own judgment or the advice of doctors and hospitals. However, when you have a living will, everyone involved will have a clear idea of what your wishes are and can act accordingly. In addition, a living will can help reduce stress for your loved ones, especially if you have young children or other dependents.
At Dorko Wealth & Estate Planning, we offer living will services to residents of Wyomissing, Spring Township, Cumru Township, Spring Garden Township, and surrounding areas.
Can You Write Your Own Living Will in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, individuals have the legal right to draft their own living wills. However, there are specific requirements that must be met to ensure the validity and effectiveness of a self-drafted living will.
Requirements for a Valid Living Will in Pennsylvania
- Capacity: The individual must be of sound mind and legal age (18 years or older) to create a living will in Pennsylvania.
- Witnesses: The living will must be signed by the individual making the directive (the "principal") in the presence of two witnesses who are also at least 18 years old. These witnesses must not be related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption, nor can they be entitled to any portion of the principal's estate.
- Notarization: While not required by law, having the living will notarized can add an extra layer of validity and make it easier to enforce.
- Specificity: The living will should clearly articulate the individual's preferences regarding medical treatment, including whether they wish to receive life-sustaining measures such as artificial nutrition and hydration, ventilator support, or resuscitation in certain circumstances.
Why Seek Legal Assistance
While it is possible to draft a living will without legal assistance, consulting with a lawyer can provide numerous benefits:
- Legal Expertise: Lawyers experienced in estate planning can ensure that the living will complies with all relevant Pennsylvania laws and regulations.
- Customization: A lawyer can help tailor the living will to the individual's unique circumstances and preferences, ensuring that it accurately reflects their wishes regarding end-of-life care.
- Clarity and Precision: Legal professionals can draft language that is clear, precise, and legally binding, reducing the risk of misinterpretation or ambiguity.
- Peace of Mind: By entrusting the drafting of their living will to a lawyer, individuals can have confidence that their wishes will be accurately represented and legally enforceable, providing peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.
Does My Living Will Need to Be Notarized?
In most cases, living wills do not need to be notarized. However, it is important that your living will be signed and dated by you and at least two witnesses. If you are creating your living will through a lawyer, the lawyer will make sure that your document is properly signed and witnessed.
Additionally, if you are putting together a living will on your own, it is important to make sure that you have a witness who is not related to you. This is because many states will not accept a living will that is not signed by two unrelated witnesses.
How Long Does a Living Will Last?
There is no time limit on how long a living will should be in effect. However, it is important to keep your living will up to date by making any necessary revisions. If you are married, divorced, or have children who are no longer minors, you should make any necessary changes to ensure that your living will accurately reflect your current wishes.
Additionally, if your health changes, you should review your living will and make sure you are still comfortable with the instructions you have provided. If you are not sure if your living will is still valid, you can always speak to your estate planning lawyer to discuss any changes that need to be made.
Are Living Wills Legal?
Yes, living wills are completely legal. However, you should be aware that living wills are not always followed. This is because living wills are not legally binding and your loved ones may not be aware of them. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your wishes are clearly communicated to your family and that everyone is aware of your living will.
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