Washington Will Lawyer James Mayhew Makes Sure Your Property Gets Distributed the Way You Want
A will in Washington State allows you to distribute your property to those you want to have it. It allows you to appoint a person you trust so your wishes are carried out. You can also appoint a guardian for your minor children.
In Washington, you may attach a list to your will, which gives certain items of your personal property to your named beneficiaries. This list must be signed by you, but can be changed and updated periodically, without the necessity of revising your will.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding the prolonging medical treatments. It is also called a healthcare directive. A living will should not be confused with a living trust, which is a mechanism for holding and distributing a person’s assets to avoid probate. It is important to have a living will as it informs your health care providers and your family about your desire for medical treatment in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.
How Do I Create a Living Will?
The requirement for a living will varies by state so you may want to have a lawyer prepare your living will. Many lawyers who practice in the area of estate planning will include a living will in their package of estate planning documents. If you need to write or update a will, you can take care of your living will at the same time.
Generally, a living will describes certain life prolonging treatments. You, the declarant, indicate which treatments you do or do not want applied to you in the event you either suffer from a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state. A living will does not become effective unless you are incapacitated, with a certificate by your doctor and another doctor that you are either suffering from a terminal illness or permanently unconscious. This means that if you suffer from a heart attack, for example, but otherwise do not have any terminal illness and are not permanently unconscious, a living will does not have any effect. You would still be resuscitated. A living will is only used when your ultimate recovery is hopeless.
For situations where you are incapacitated and therefore not able to speak for yourself, but your health is not so dire that your living will becomes effective, you should have a healthcare power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you select the authority to make health care decisions for you, on your behalf, in the event you are incapacitated. The person you designate to make health care decisions is supposed to consider what you want, so be sure to talk to them about it. It may be a difficult conversation, but talking about it lessens the burden on the person you designate.
You Must Get it in Writing
None of the above decisions will do you any good if no one knows about them. You have to talk with your doctor and the person you designate as your decision maker. Discuss with your doctor what kinds of end of life medical treatments you want and don’t want. He or she can help you by answering any questions you may have about certain treatments. Once you’ve decided, make your wishes known to your doctor and family.
Still confused about wills and trusts? View our wills FAQ and glossary!