(Using Living Wills or Health Care Agents to authorize final decisions)
A living will is not a will in the conventional sense of the word. It is used in cases of severe illness or injury, and unlike a standard will, it doesn't affect what will happen after you've died. A living will gives instructions specifically regarding the use of life support in the event of terminal illness or injury, and when and how it should be used. A living will is only applicable when the individual is unable to communicate his or her wishes.
In Connecticut as in all states other than North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, the only requirements for making a living will legal are that the individual is of sound mind and body, and the document is uniform in appearance and signed by two or three witnesses who aren't immediate family members.
All 50 states require two witnesses to the signing of a living will. To be competent as witnesses, these individuals must be legal adults, with the capacity to know that they're acting as witnesses to a living will. They may be called on to testify with respect to the signing of the will. Family members, estate beneficiaries and anyone closely connected to the party are likely to be declared invalid witnesses because of potential conflicts of interest.
Connecticut allows an adult (age 18 and over) to complete a living will in advance of their incapacitation. While Connecticut law does not mandate the use of a particular form, there is a suggested form which is set forth in C.G. S. 19a-575. It is prudent to use the suggested form.
The form must be executed in the presence of two (2) witnesses. These witnesses must also execute the document. It does not need to be notarized. Another option which is available in Connecticut is for an adult to execute a document which contains health care instructions, the appointment of a health care agent, the appointment of an attorney-in-fact for health care decisions, the designation of a conservator of the person for future incapacity and a document of anatomical gift. All of this is contained in a single document, and the suggested form is set forth in C.G.S. 19a-575a.
Again, it is prudent to use the suggested form. The form must be executed in the presence of two (2) witnesses, and these witnesses must also execute the document in the presence of each other and in the presence of the person signing the document. The witnesses must also execute an affidavit which must be notarized.
Finally, there is a simple form for appointing a health care agent, as authorized by C.G.S. 19a-577. Again, this form requires two (2) witnesses. The person appointed as the health care agent cannot be one of the witnesses.