What is an Arizona Living Will?
A living will (sometimes referred to as an advanced directive) is an estate planning document that states your healthcare preferences for end-of-life care.
It comes into play when you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your decisions about end-of-life care. Issues that you can address in a living will include:
• Tube feeding;
• Life support;
• Ventilators; and
• Palliative care (treatments to decrease pain and suffering).
A living will is a completely separate document from a last will and testament, which is primarily focused on how you want your property to be distributed at your death. A living will is only effective during your lifetime if you are incapacitated; after your death, it has no effect.
Why Do You Need a Living Will in Phoenix?
A living will should be a part of every Phoenix estate plan, regardless of your age or health. Below are four reasons why you should get a living will.
1. You are prepared for the unexpected. If the COVID pandemic taught us anything, it is that it is important to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether due to general cognitive decline, an illness, or sudden injury, anyone can become incapacitated at any time.
2. Your wishes for end-of-life care will be followed. Many people have a general idea of the type of care that they want to receive at the end of their life. A living will is critical to ensure that your wishes are followed if you cannot communicate these choices yourself.
3. You will reduce the stress and guilt placed on your family members. When a loved one is receiving end-of-life care and does not have a living will, family members can suffer from guilt and anger as they try to decide the best course of action. The decision of whether or not to continue life support can cause a family battle that permanently destroys relationships. With a living will, your family will have no ambiguity about your preferences. They will have comfort knowing that they are meeting your wishes.
4. You can avoid depleting your estate. Many individuals are driven to create a living will because they want to ensure that their estate is not spent on medical care when there is little to no chance of recovery. They would rather their legacy be passed down to later generations.
What are the Legal Requirements for Living Wills in Phoenix?
Arizona requires that living wills are written with clear intent to create a living will, dated, and signed. It must be notarized or witnessed and signed by at least one adult. The notary or witness cannot be any of the following:
• A person designated to make medical decisions on the principal’s behalf;
• A person directly involved with the provision of health care to the principal; or
• A person directly involved with the provision of health care to the principal at the time the living will is executed.
What Should I Do Once I Create a Living Will in Phoenix?
There are four important steps that you should take after you have completed your living will in Phoenix.
1. Put the original in a safe and easily accessible place.
2. Provide copies of your will to the following individuals:
a. Your medical providers (i.e., doctors, hospitals, and your hospice or palliative care team);
b. Your health care agent and any alternate agents; and
c. Your attorney.
3. Keep a record of who has your advanced directives and review it every few years to ensure that every person who needs a copy has one.
You should also consider having an open and honest discussion with your loved one regarding your wishes.
Can You Change or Revoke a Living Will in Phoenix?
Living wills are not set in stone. You can change or revoke your living will at any time or for any reason. You are always allowed to change your mind. If you make changes, it is critical to give updated copies to your medical team and family.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer to Make a Living Will in Phoenix?
It is recommended that you use a lawyer to draft your living will. An experienced estate planning attorney will ensure that your living will fits your specific needs and ensure that the document meets all of Arizona’s legal requirements.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
Nicole Pavlik is an experienced Phoenix estate planning attorney who can help you create a comprehensive estate plan. If you have questions about living wills, call Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today at (602) 635-6176 for a free consultation.
PROTECT YOUR WISHES & PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE WITH TAILORED LEGAL SOLUTIONS