Not to be confused with a living trust, a living will is a written document that allows you to control medical decisions for your medical treatment if you are unable to make those decisions. Referred to as a “living will,” the document allows you to control your medical decisions if you are no longer capable of making those decisions due to mental or physical incapacity. Also known as an “advance directive,” federal law requires hospitals and nursing homes to notify you of your rights to execute a living will to help you during a terminal illness or disability.
Because of the legal complexities and seriousness of living will directives, you should seek advice from an Iowa attorney familiar with the Iowa laws regarding legally binding advance directives or living wills.
State laws govern the legal requirements to create a valid living will. You can create a living will in Iowa if you are at least 18 years old and mentally competent to create one. You must sign your living will or advance directive in front of a notary or two independent witnesses who are each at least 18 years old. If you can find two witnesses who are not family members, it is better to use those two independent witnesses. Your physician or other healthcare provider cannot serve as a witness. Your witnesses or notary must also sign your living will in your presence. You must be able to sign your living will voluntarily. This means that you cannot be under duress, under the influence or mentally incompetent. You must know that the document that you are creating and signing is your living will affecting your decisions regarding your future medical care.
Duffy Law Office is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.