Your lawyer can provide you with living wills and health care proxies. Generally, these documents require at least two witnesses, who must be adults as defined under your state law. It is the policy of some hospitals and other medical institutions not to permit their employees to witness the signing of such documents. Most states have other restrictions as to who may witness such documents. Generally, the persons who act as witnesses are not permitted to be individuals entitled to any inheritance as a result of your death, either by will or by state law. Often, state law does not permit persons to witness such documents if they are related to you by blood or by marriage or if they are responsible for payment of your medical bills. Some lawyers recommend that these documents be notarized as well as witnessed.
While all states recognize these types of documents, the law varies as to whether a state will recognize a document prepared in another state. It is not necessary to prepare additional documents in case you might vacation in another state. If you spend a considerable amount of time living in more than one state, however, you should consider having such documents prepared in each of the states in which you spend significant periods of time.
Should you change your mind about your health care treatment or end-of-life decisions or your choice of health care proxy, you can simply destroy the documents you have and create new ones. Once you have a living will, health care proxy, or advance health care directive, you should keep it among your important papers. Make sure a responsible adult, such as the named health care proxy, knows where you keep these documents. If you have a regular physician who keeps your medical records, you should provide a copy of the document to him or her for your medical records. In the event you are admitted to a hospital, you should take this document with you at the time you are admitted and permit the hospital to place a copy of it into your medical file. It is also a good idea to discuss the decisions you have made in your document with family members so that they may better know and understand your wishes concerning these matters.
Information provided from The American Bar Association.