COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

3 Steps to Having an Effective Living Will

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

Many of my estate planning clients do not know what a Living Will is or how it is a part of estate Planning. It is important to understand that a Living Will is a vital part of estate planning. It has nothing to do with giving away your assets. Rather, a Living Will is a directive signed by you that informs your Physicians and medical care providers about the decision you have made concerning how your life is too end. It gives you the ability to provide specific instructions now while you are able, so that if a time comes when you can no longer communicate your directive as written in your Living Will will be followed. Here are the 3 main steps to having an effective Living Will.


The first and most important step of a Living Will is that it must be in writing. It makes no difference if you have told your family what your wishes are, because if you are unconscious and unable to communicate with your health care providers they will turn to your family and ask them what they should do. Your family then is free to make whatever decision they choose. However, if your Living Will is in writing, and it is valid and enforceable, your health care providers are under an obligation to follow it.


The next step is that you should share your Living Will with your family. This gives your family an opportunity to discuss with you right now, while you are able to articulate the reasons for your decisions, so that they will understand what your desires are. This is more a way of helping your family understand what will occur in the event you are being treated and cannot communicate with your health care providers. It also helps your family appreciate and understand that the decision is yours, and not theirs to make.


The third, and final step is that you need to have a copy of your Living Will delivered to your health care providers. In this day and age most health care providers will ask you if you have a Living Will. If you do they will ask you to bring a copy with you so that they can scan it and put it into your medical records.

It goes without saying that your Living Will will be ineffective even if it exists, if it is not in the hands of your health care providers. By getting a copy to your health care providers so that it is part of your medical records, you have eliminated the need to remember to bring it with you if there were some sort of emergency. In those circumstances it’s easy for you to forget about your Living Will. your health care providers are under no obligation to follow your wishes unless they have a copy of your living will in their possession.

A Living Will is an important part of every estate plan. If you have questions about creating a living will, or if you would like to update or change your living will, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.


Contact Information