A Living Will is a document in which you tell your physician or other health care providers whether or not you want life-sustaining procedures or treatments to be given to you if you are terminally ill or in a permanent unconscious state.
You will be considered terminally ill if you have an incurable condition for which medical treatment will only prolong the dying process and without the treatment, death will occur in a relatively short time.
A permanent unconscious state means that the individual is in a permanent coma which was caused by either illness, injury or disease. While in a coma, the individual is totally unaware of themselves, their surroundings and environment and to a reasonable medical certainty, there can be no recovery.
The Living Will only goes into effect when (1) your physician has a copy of it, and (2) your physician and another physician conclude that you can no longer make your own health care decisions, and (3) your physician and another physician have determined that you have a terminal condition or are in a permanent unconscious state.
In order for the Living Will to be valid, you must sign and date the Living Will. If you are unable to sign, someone else can sign the document in your presence and at your direction.
Once the document is signed, then it must be witnessed by 2 qualified adults. However, at least one of these witnesses cannot be a beneficiary of your estate at the time of your death. If you are in a skilled nursing care facility or a long term health care facility, at least one of the witnesses must be a patient advocate or ombudsman designated by the California State Department of Aging.
The only people who CANNOT witness your signature are: (1) a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider; (2) an operator or an employee of an operator of a community care facility; or (3) an operator or an employee of an operator of a residential care facility for the elderly.