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4 key components of a living will

The estate planning process is highly customizable, which is one of its greatest benefits. One California estate owner might be focused on asset protection or business succession when executing an estate plan, while another is more concerned about advance directives and powers of attorney. For the latter, one important document is a living will, which is typically comprised of several key components and is covered under the state’s Natural Death Act.


A living will is a legal document that often contains a person’s instructions or wishes concerning certain types of medical care, particularly such care that would be intended to extend or preserve life by extraneous measures, such as life support devices or feeding tubes. The following key issues that are usually addressed in a living will:

  • “Do not resuscitate” order
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Instructions for burial
  • Type of life support care the patient wants or does not want

There is additional information that may be included in a living will, such as a list of names and contact numbers for doctors, in case of emergency. If a living will is signed in sound mind, in accordance with state laws, then it is enforceable by law.


In this state, a person wishing to sign a living will must have two valid witnesses. Also, if the person in question is pregnant, the advance directive is invalid, meaning, the doctor may not withhold care that could result in a pregnant woman‘s death, even if she has instructed in a living will for such treatment to be withheld. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the validity of a living will may seek answers by requesting a meeting with an estate law attorney.

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