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Living Wills: State Laws

A living will, also known in some states as a health care directive or directive to physicians, is a document that allows you to state your wishes for end-of-life medical care. This is done in case you become unable to communicate your own health care decisions. A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, is another type of medical care directive. It is a document that allows you to name a person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so.

Every state has different laws and requirements for properly executing an end-of-life or medical care document. Below, you will find a list of the living wills laws for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

State Overview Citation
Alabama Advance directive for health care requires two witnesses at least 19 years old. Not valid if pregnant.

§§22-8A-1 to 22-8A-13

All statutes

Alaska

Living will requires no witnesses. Two witnesses are required for a "health care proxy," but this allows only general medical decisions to be made

§§13.52.010-13.52.395

All statutes

Arizona

One witness or a notary is required for a living will, as well as for a health care power of attorney. Arizona also maintains an "Advance Care Directory," where you can file your documents with the state.

§§36-3201 to 36-3297

All statutes

Arkansas

Both living wills and health care proxies require two witnesses. Not valid if pregnant

§§20-17-202 to 20-17-218

All statutes

California

An advance health care directive and a durable power attorney require two witnesses OR a notary, but are not valid if pregnant.

Probate Code §§4700 to 4743

All codes

Colorado

Health care declaration (living will) requires two witnesses, but is not valid if pregnant. Medical durable power of attorney for health care does NOT require any witnesses or notary.

§§15-18-101 to 15-18-113

All statutes

Connecticut

Advance directive (inclusive of a living will, or an appointment of health care representative, or both) requires two witnesses. Not valid if pregnant.

§§19a-570 to 19a-580d

Delaware

Advance health-care directive (includes an individual instruction or a power of attorney for health care, or both) requires two witnesses.

Title 16, §§2501 to 2518

All statutes

District of Columbia

Health care declaration (living will) requires two witnesses.

§§7-621 to 7-630

Florida

Two witnesses are required for both a health care advance directive (living will) and the designation of a health care surrogate. At least one of the witnesses cannot be a spouse or a blood relative.

§§765.301 to 765.310

All statutes

Georgia

Advance directive for health care (living will) require two witnesses. Not valid if pregnant.

§§31-32-1 to 31-32-12

All statutes

Hawaii

Advance health-care directive, or a power of attorney for health care, require two witnesses OR a notary. Not valid if pregnant.

§§327E-1 to 327E-16

All statutes

Idaho

No witnesses required for a "Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care." Not valid if pregnant. Optional submission to state registry.

§§39-4501 to 39-4509

All statutes

Illinois

Health care declaration (living will) requires two witnesses. Not valid if pregnant. One witness is required for power of attorney for health care.

Ch. 755, §§35/1 to 35/10, 755 ILCS 45/4-1, et. seq.

All statutes

Indiana

Both a living will declaration and a life prolonging procedures will declaration require two witnesses. Not valid if pregnant. Appointment of health care representative requires one witness.

§§16-36-4-1 to 16-36-4-21

All statutes

Iowa

Two witnesses OR a notary are required for a living will. Not valid if pregnant. Power of attorney for health care requires two witnesses or notary.

§§144A.3 to 144A.12

All statutes

Kansas

Two witnesses or a notary are required for a living will or durable power of attorney.

§§65-28,101 to 65-28, 109

All statutes

Kentucky

Advance directive, section two (2) requires two witnesses or notary. Not valid if pregnant.

§§311.621 to 311.644

All statutes

Louisiana

Both living will and health care proxy require two witnesses. May register living will document with End of Life Registry maintained by the Secretary of State.

Title 40, §§1299.58.1. to 1299.58.10

All statutes

Maine

Advance health care directives require two witnesses.

Title 18-A, §§5-801 to 5-817

All statutes

Maryland

Advance medical directive health care instructions require two witnesses. Appointment of health care agents also require two witnesses.

§§5-601 to 5-618

All statutes

Massachusetts

Massachusetts law allows people to make their own Health Care Proxies, but does not officially recognize Living Wills. Two witnesses are required for a health care proxy.

General Laws, Chapter 201D

All statutes

Michigan

No state law for a living will, no state law, therefore are no formal requirements. Strongly recommended the document be entitled, "Living Will;” be dated; signed by you; and signed by two witnesses who are not family members. Two witnesses are required for Designation of Patient Advocate for Health Care.

Living Wills Laws

All statutes

Minnesota

Two witnesses notary or are required for a living will. Not valid if pregnant. Two witnesses or a notary are required for durable power of attorney for health care.

§§145B.01 to 145B.17

All statutes

Mississippi

Advance health care directive (living will and health care proxy included on same form) requires two witnesses or a notary.

§§41-41-201 to 41-41-229

All statutes

Missouri

Two witnesses required for a living will, but is not valid if pregnant. Durable power of attorney for health care requires a notary or two witnesses. The notary acknowledgment is required by Missouri
law if you appoint an agent and complete a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

§§459.015 to 459.055

All statutes

Montana

Two witnesses required for a living will/advance directive. You may also store your advance directive in the End-of-Life Registry maintained by the State of Montana.

§§50-9-101 to 50-9-206

All statutes

Nebraska

Two witnesses or a notary required for a living will advance directive.

§§20-401 to 20-416

All statutes

Nevada

Two witnesses required for a living will. Durable power of attorney for health care decisions requires a notary if you are granting your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, if not then you only need two witnesses. You may also store your advance directive in the Living Will Lockbox maintained by the State of Nevada.

§§449.535 to 449.690

All statutes

New Hampshire

Advance directive and durable power of attorney requires a notary OR two witnesses.

§§137-J:1 to 137-J:16

All statutes

New Jersey

Either instruction directive, or appointment of a health care representative requires two witnesses or a notary public.

26:2H-53 to 26:2H-91

All statutes

New Mexico

No witnesses are required for either an advance health care directive or durable power of attorney, but it may be helpful to do so in case your advance health care directive is ever challenged.

§§24-7A-1 to 24-7A-18

All statutes

New York

Two witnesses required for a living will and health care proxy.

Article 29-B,§§2964 to 2978 and §§2980 to 2994

All statutes

North Carolina

Two witnesses and a notary public are required for a living will and health care power of attorney. Not valid if pregnant.

§§90-320 to 90-322

All statutes

North Dakota

Two witnesses or a notary public required for a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Not valid if pregnant.

23-06.4-01 to 23-06.4-14

All statutes

Ohio

Two witnesses or a notary are required for a living will, but it is not valid if pregnant unless pregnancy won't develop to a live birth. Durable power of attorney for health care requires a notary or two witnesses.

§§§§2133.01 to 2133.15

All statutes

Oklahoma

Two witnesses required for a living will, but it is not valid if pregnant. Appointment of health care proxy requires two witnesses.

Title 63, Ch. 60, §§3101.1 to 3102A

All statutes

Oregon

Advance directive requires two witnesses.

§§127.505 to 127.660, and §§127.995

All statutes

Pennsylvania

Two witnesses are required for a living will needs, but it is not valid if pregnant.

Title 20, Chapter 54, §§5441 to 5447

All statutes

Rhode Island

Two witnesses required for a living will, but it is not valid if pregnant and if the fetus could develop for a live birth. Durable power of attorney for health care requires two witnesses or a notary.

§§23-4.11-1 to 23-4.11-15

All statutes

South Carolina

A living will requires two witnesses and a notary. Health care power of attorney requires two witnesses.

§§44-77-10 to 44-77-160

All statutes

South Dakota

Two witnesses are required for a living will or durable power of attorney for health care. Not valid if pregnant.

§§34-12D-1 to 34-12D-22

All statutes

Tennessee

Two witnesses or a notary are required for an advance directive or appointment of a health care agent.

§§32-11-101 to 32-11-113

All statutes

Texas

Directive to physicians/living will requires two witnesses or a notary public, but is not valid if pregnant. Durable power of attorney for health care requires two witnesses.

§§166.031 to 166.053

All statutes

Utah

Advance health care directive requires one witness and can be oral or written Not valid if pregnant.

§§§§75-2a

All statutes

Vermont

Advance medical directive requires two witnesses. You may also store a copy of your advance medical directive in an online registry provided to you by the Vermont Department of Health.

Title 18, Ch. 231, §§§§9700 9720

All statutes

Virginia

Advance medical directive requires two witnesses.

§§54.1-2981 to 54.1-2993

All statutes

Washington

Health care directive requires two witnesses, but is not valid if pregnant. Durable power of attorney for health care does not require, but does recommend witnesses.

§§70.122.010 to 70.122.920

All statutes

West Virginia

Two witnesses and a notary are required for a living will. Medical power of attorney for health care also requires two witnesses and a notary.

§§16-30-1 to 16-30-25

All statutes

Wisconsin

Declaration to physicians (living will) requires two witnesses, but is not valid if pregnant. Power of attorney for health care requires two witnesses.

§§154.01 to 154.29

All statutes

Wyoming

Two witnesses OR a notary are required for a living will, but is not valid if pregnant. Durable power of attorney for health care requires two witnesses OR a notary.

§§35-22-201 to 35-22-416

All statutes

Prepare to Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are drafting a living will, advance directive, or other health care directive, you'll want to give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that it's being drafted correctly and in compliance with the laws of your jurisdiction. Speak to a qualified estate planning attorney in your state today for assistance.

Additional Resources

You can also visit FindLaw's Living Wills section to learn more.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to help you ensure
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