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Delaware Health Care Directive and Living Will Options to Suit Your Needs
Health Care Directive & Living Will
For One Person
A do-it-yourself health care directive & living will that’s easy to personalize.
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Estate Planning Package
For One Person
All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan.
How It Works
Create your health care directive & living will in under an hour.
Answer Some Questions
Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy and which medical treatments you would request or refuse.
Create an Account
Creating an account is easy, quick, and secure. Save your information as you go and return when you have time.
Complete Your Document
Once you answer the relevant questions, we do the hard part and create your unique document.
Sign & Make It Legal
Sign your document according to the instructions. Keep the signed form, and give a copy to your doctors and agent/proxy.
What’s Next To Make My Delaware Health Care Directive and Living Will Valid?
Validate your health care directive and living will by following these steps: See full process
Make decisions about your medical care.
A living will is a type of advance health care directive (sometimes referred to as an “advance directive”). It allows you to make treatment choices in case you ever become medically unable to make them in the future.
To complete your health care directive and living will, you should decide whether you would request or refuse life-prolonging procedures in the event of a terminal condition. Consider such treatments as artificial nutrition, artificial hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and others. It can be difficult to make these medical decisions in advance, but it might help to talk them over with a trusted doctor and your loved ones.
Through your health care directive and living will, you can also decide whether you would wish to leave anatomical gifts or donate bodily organs after your death. There is no requirement to be an organ donor. This decision, as well as your other healthcare decisions, is highly individualized. Your decisions will come down to your personal preferences and beliefs.
Choose a healthcare agent.
In addition to creating a health care directive and living will, you may want to name someone to make medical choices for you. This person is known as a healthcare agent. According to chapter 25 of the Delaware statutes, you can name one through a document called a durable power of attorney for health care. This is another type of advance health care directive. In the event that you become unable to give informed consent on medical choices, your agent will be able to choose treatments on your behalf.
When selecting a healthcare agent, you should consider whether they understand your treatment preferences. You should talk to them to make sure that they know how you feel about end-of-life care and other medical procedures you feel strongly about. It’s also important to consider whether this person can be assertive. They may need to advocate for your healthcare wishes to your family members and medical staff.
Finally, you should be aware of restrictions under Delaware law on who may legally act as your healthcare agent. You may not choose someone who owns, operates, or works at a residential healthcare institution where you receive medical treatment. The only exception to this would be if the person is a relative of yours.
Sign your health care directive and living will.
According to chapter 25 of the Delaware statutes, you must sign your advance health care directives or direct someone to sign them for you. There must be two or more adult witnesses present to observe your signature.
However, the following individuals are not permitted to act as witnesses:
- Individuals who are related to you by blood, adoption, or marriage
- Anyone who may have a claim against your estate (creditors)
- Individuals who are financially responsible for your medical treatment
- Anyone who owns, operates, or works at a health care institution where you are a patient
Your witnesses must state in writing that they do not fall into the any above categories. This shows that they are not disqualified from witnessing your advance directives.
Distribute your health care directive and living will.
After you have signed your advance health care directives, you need to make sure that they end up in the right hands. Of course, if you named a health care agent, you should give them a copy of your health care directive and living will. This will help them to understand your treatment preferences and gives them a document to reference if necessary.
Next, you should give your close loved ones copies in case they accompany you during an emergency situation.
Finally, you should give your healthcare providers copies of your advance health care directives. This allows them to update your medical record to reflect your choices.
Update your health care directive and living will.
A good rule of thumb is to update your health care directive and living will every few years at least. This will help to ensure that it continues to reflect your health care preferences. However, you may need to modify your document sooner if you go through certain significant life events.
Major life events that might cause you to reconsider your estate plan include:
- a new diagnosis
- a divorce
- an interstate move
If you purchase a health care directive and health care directive and living will through FindLaw, you can relax knowing that you can make unlimited updates to your document for a full year after purchase.
You May Want to Speak With a Lawyer if:
- Your family disagrees with your medical choices
- You don’t know who to appoint as your agent
- You have questions about life prolonging measures
- You want legal review of your completed document
Ready to get started on Your Delaware healthcare directive & living will? It’s free to start.Create My Form
Delaware health care directive and Living Will FAQs
To create a legally valid health care directive and living will in Delaware, you must meet certain basic requirements:
- You must be an adult
- You must be mentally competent to make health care decisions
- The document must be in writing
- You must sign and date the document or direct someone to do so for you
- There must be two credible witnesses present when you sign
Under Delaware law, there are several restrictions on your choices of witnesses. Generally, you may not choose your health care providers, anyone who pays for your health care, relatives, or creditors. These restrictions help to prevent fraud and conflicts of interest. They are covered in more detail in the steps above.
Yes. Under Delaware law, an advance directive from another state is valid in Delaware if it complies with the laws of that state or with Delaware’s laws.
However, if you have permanently moved to Delaware, you should consider updating your estate plan, including your health care directive and living will. This will help to ensure that your documents comply with Delaware’s laws and reflect your current preferences. With FindLaw, you can create a health care directive and living will that’s customized to Delaware law for $35 in about half an hour.
You can name a healthcare agent through a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This authorizes your healthcare agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. However, they can only do so if you become incapacitated and unable to make treatment decisions for yourself.
Your healthcare agent has broad decision-making powers over your medical treatment. They can make any treatment decisions that you would have been able to make when you had the capacity to do so. Their legal duty is to carry out the terms of your health care directive and living will. But if medical issues pop up that are not covered by your advance directives, your healthcare agent’s duty is to make the decisions that they believe you would have made under the circumstances. If they do not know what you would have wanted, their duty is to act in your best interest after consulting with medical professionals.
However, a healthcare agent does not have the power to withhold life-sustaining treatments unless you are permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or otherwise diagnosed as having a condition that could likely cause death within a year.
Remember to keep practical considerations in mind. These would include whether your agent lives nearby, and whether they will be able to reach you promptly. It may be a good idea to name an alternate agent in case your first choice becomes unable or unwilling to take on this responsibility.
In Delaware, advance directives become effective in the event that you become medically incapacitated and unable to give informed consent on your treatment options. Your advance directives will no longer be effective if you regain the capacity to make your own medical decisions.
If there are provisions in your advance directives that instruct the withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures, there are stricter requirements. These provisions only go into effect if you are:
- Experiencing a terminal illness,
- Permanently unconscious; or
- Experiencing “serious illness or frailty.” This is defined as a medical condition that could result in death within the next year, according to a healthcare professional.
The diagnosis of permanent unconsciousness must be made by a neurologist or neurosurgeon.
A divorce does not revoke the medical directions in your living will. But if you named your spouse as a health care agent through a durable power of attorney for healthcare, the divorce would revoke this designation. The only exception to this would be if you had stated otherwise in your advance directives.
If you have gone through a divorce, it’s wise to update your estate planning documents. You may need to name a new health care agent to replace your former spouse. Further, you might want to add or remove beneficiaries from your will.
Under Delaware law, you can revoke all or part of your advance healthcare directives as long as you are competent to do so.
You may revoke in the following ways:
- Through a signed writing
- By communicating your intention to revoke to at least two competent people. One of those people must be a health care provider.
If your revocation is not in writing, the witnesses to your revocation must create a signed and dated writing to document this. You should choose witnesses who you trust to create the appropriate record.
When you create new advance healthcare directives, they revoke any conflicting provisions in the former documents. You can create a new living will through FindLaw in about half an hour without needing to leave the comfort of home.
Whenever you revoke your advance healthcare directives or create new ones, make sure to inform the right people of this change. You should give your loved ones, health care providers, and health care agent updated copies.
Complex Family Situation? Need Additional Guidance?
Contact a local estate planning attorney.
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