Estate Planning 101

How to Make a Living Will in Utah

In Utah, factors such as notarization, the number of required witnesses, and the point at which the living will becomes effective are all governed by specific state laws. In this guide, we'll answer all the important questions.
February 4, 2024

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Estate planning can be complex, with many legal documents and terminologies that need to be understood correctly. A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your healthcare preferences should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It's important to recognize that a living will differs from a last will and testament, which pertains to the distribution of your assets after your death. Additionally, a living will is not the same as a living trust, which is used for managing your assets during your lifetime and beyond.

Living Will vs Power of Attorney

A living will and a Power of Attorney (POA) are distinct yet essential components of a comprehensive estate plan. A living will is solely dedicated to healthcare decisions, specifying what kind of medical treatment you would or would not prefer if you are unable to express your wishes. 

Conversely, a POA allows you to designate a trusted individual (known as an agent) to make decisions on your behalf. Depending on the type of POA you establish, this could include financial decisions, healthcare decisions, or both. Having both a living will and a POA is vital as they complement each other and ensure your wishes are respected in a variety of situations.

Examples of a Living Will

A living will can encompass a broad range of healthcare decisions. For example, you might include instructions on:

  • Life-prolonging treatments: You can specify whether you want treatments that don't cure you but can keep you alive longer, such as ventilators or feeding tubes.
  • Pain management: You can state whether you want to receive or not receive pain medication. 
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders: You can express your preference about whether or not to be resuscitated if your heart or breathing stops.
  • Organ and tissue donations: You can express your wish to donate your organs and tissues after death. 

In essence, a living will serves as a critical component of your overall estate plan, providing clear guidance to your loved ones and healthcare providers about your medical treatment preferences.

Cost of a Living Will

The cost of creating a living will in Utah can vary, depending on the method you choose. If you opt to hire an attorney, costs can range from $200 to $500, depending on the complexity of your situation and the lawyer's rates. 

However, more affordable options are available. Online platforms like Snug offer a simple and cost-effective way to create a legally valid living will. With Snug, you can draft a living will for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney.

When Does a Living Will Go Into Effect?

A living will becomes effective when you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions, typically due to incapacitation from an illness or injury. While a living will outlines your treatment preferences, a Medical POA names an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. These two documents often work in tandem within an estate plan.

Hiring an Attorney to Make a Living Will

While it's possible to create a living will on your own, hiring an attorney can be beneficial, particularly if your healthcare wishes are complex. An attorney can provide legal advice tailored to your situation and ensure the document meets all legal requirements in Utah. 

However, hiring an attorney comes with additional costs. If you're comfortable creating a living will on your own and your healthcare wishes are straightforward, online solutions like Snug can provide a cost-effective alternative. Snug offers an easy-to-use platform to create a living will that meets Utah's legal requirements.

Notarizing Living Wills

In Utah, your living will does not need to be notarized. However, it requires two competent adult witnesses to be legally valid. The witnesses must be present when you sign the document and cannot be a healthcare provider or related to you by blood or marriage.

Witnessing a Living Will

Along with having witnesses, Utah law requires that these witnesses must be present when you sign the living will. It's important to note that the witnesses cannot be related to you by blood or marriage, entitled to any part of your estate, or directly financially responsible for your healthcare. 

Creating a living will is a significant step in protecting your healthcare wishes and providing guidance to your loved ones. Whether you choose to use an attorney or an online platform like Snug, it's crucial to include this document as part of your comprehensive estate plan.