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End of life wishes in California

One of the most important aspects of creating a will is making your end-of-life wishes known and preparing for the worst before you are legally barred from making some decisions. Whether you are creating a will for the first time, or simply updating an extant will, you should make sure that you have clearly conveyed your wishes and assigned any necessary privileges while you still can.

Since 2015, California has recognized the right of terminally ill patients with only six months of life expectancy to end their lives with the help of a qualified physician. In order to qualify, the individual must be deemed mentally competent and have a confirmed terminal medical diagnosis. This decision can be made less contentious for those who state in a will that they may consider this option if circumstances necessitate it.

You can also use your will to direct the ones you love regarding whether or not to perform life-expending procedures or keep you on life supporting equipment. If you wish to have life support withdrawn, it is vitally important that you not only make your wishes known while you are still competent, but also appoint someone to have power of attorney to execute your wishes. Power of attorney is required under California law in order for a person to withdraw life support on behalf of another.

If you are creating your will, no matter what stage of life you may be in, it is important to think through these tough decisions. To help clarify the particulars of any specific area of state or federal law concerning wills and estate plans, consider enlisting the help of an experienced attorney who can help guide you as you explore your options.

Source:, "California Euthanasia Laws," accessed Nov. 10, 2016

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