Living Trusts & Living Wills

Living Trust
A competent adult may create an inter vivos (living) trust, which provides for the handling of all or certain financial affairs by a designated trustee. Like a power of attorney, it allows one to specify the person or entity (e.g., a trust department) to handle the affairs and manage the trust property and may define the exact manner of property management. It is also beneficial in that it designates the trustee with whom third parties may deal regarding financial and other matters within the scope of the trust. It usually involves higher costs and more complex arrangements than required under normal circumstances.

Living Will
The Georgia Code defines a living will as a written directive instructing a physician to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition, a coma, or a persistent vegetative state. Its basic purpose is to protect a patient's dignity and prevent unnecessary pain and suffering at the end of life. Any person who is of sound mind may execute a living will. Physical condition is irrelevant, as long as the individual is of sound mind and capable of understanding the document.

The Georgia Code contains a form titled Living Will, which will be presumed valid and effective. There are very precise and detailed provisions governing the execution of a living will, the types of witnesses required, and a person's right to revoke the living will. There are a number of specific requirements in the law governing the conditions under which the life-sustaining procedures may be withheld or withdrawn. Those relying in good faith on the directive are shielded from liability. There are criminal sanctions against persons concealing or forging a living will.