Have you made your end of life plan yet? If not, you’re not alone. This series will help you prepare an end of life care plan in three simple steps. Within a week or even a weekend you can have a basic plan that delivers the peace of mind you want about the one step in life we all must take. Let’s do this together.
It’s all come down to this, you’ve prepared all three of your essential advance directive documents, and now it’s time to make them official by signing them.
Here at the finish line, you need to go through all the necessary steps to guarantee your plan is legally binding in your part of the country. Remember, every state has different rules, so you need to find out how yours operates. If you want to be 100% certain of your paperwork’s legality, you may want to speak with an attorney.
Here are some more tips you should keep in mind when finalizing your advance directive and legal will.
Who should be present when signing your advance directive?
Every state has different laws about the legality of signing advance directives. Some state laws can be very specific. For example, in California you must sign your advance directive and have it either notarized or signed by two witnesses. If you choose to have the signing witnessed, neither of your witnesses can be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, and cannot be entitled to any part of your estate. Also none of your witnesses can be your healthcare agent, your healthcare provider, or an operator or employee of a community care or residential care facility.
It is a good idea to do an Internet search or speak to an attorney to find out how your state operates to ensure you’re doing everything legally.
Can I revoke my advance directive?
Your advance directive will stay in effect unless you revoke it, which can be done at any time. The best way to revoke your advance directive is to put it in writing and, if possible, tear up all copies that you distributed. Also be sure to tell everyone who knows about your advance directive that you have revoked it.
Who should be present when signing a legal will?
In most states, a will must be “legally executed” to be considered valid. This means you must sign your legal will in front of two witnesses, who must then sign your will in the presence of you and one other witness. Check with your state to find out their specific guidelines.
Does my legal will need to be notarized?
You don’t need a notary to make your will legal in most states. But in some, an “optional notarized affidavit” attached to your will may save time in the probate process. Having a notarized affidavit may eliminate the step of having the witnesses to your will come before a notary public to sign an affidavit that you were of sound mind when it was written.
Check with your state laws to find out whether a notarized will is necessary.
How should I store my documents?
Keep your original advance directive in a safe place and give a copy to your healthcare proxy. It’s also a good idea to give copies to your physician, hospital, HMO (or other insurance provider) as well as trusted family members. You should review your advance directive every few years to make sure it still reflects your current thinking. Also be sure to update your advance directive if you develop any serious medical conditions.
As for your legal will, you can update it any time, as long as you adhere to your state laws. Be sure to store your will in a safe place that can easily be found and notify your witnesses and next of kin of its location. It is also a good idea to share a copy of your will with your attorney.
Congratulations, you just finished your end of life plan in 3 straightforward steps.
Links to end of life forms for all 50 states:
Advance Directives Online (all 50 states)
Last Will and Testament Forms Online (All 50 States)
Power of Attorney form (all 50 states)
Digital Assets Spreadsheet
Funeral Plan checklist
Funeral Insurance checklist