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The importance for having a ' Living Will'

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More than ever, people across the country are considering what they would want if they were in Terri Schiavo's situation.

News on 6 anchor Craig Day says lawyers say in Oklahoma, no one automatically gets to make medical decisions for you. Your spouse, your parents, and your children could all have a say, but the law says a living will could let you have the final say and make your last days a lot easier for your family.

Attorney Kendall Johnson draws up last wills and testaments for clients. But he says that just covers your possessions and a simple two page form could make many people's final decisions a lot easier to make. "They can defer to the living will that you sign in advance, saying that if I am in this condition, go ahead and let nature take its course. I don't want any heroic measures to take place to try to keep me alive.”

Johnson says a living will may have prevented some of the heartache facing both sides of Terri Schiavo's family. Living wills are different in each state. Attorneys say Oklahoma's form is comprehensive and specific, leaving little room for questions. Still, it's only two pages long. But Johnson says often people don't take the time to think about their last days until it's too late. "Nobody likes to think about their own mortality, especially at the immortal age of 30 and under, but those are the ones that inevitably find themselves in a situation like Terri Schiavo."

Oklahoma's living will also lets you designate a "health care proxy", someone who can make medical decisions for you if you cannot. Johnson says it's important to remember a living will is no good if you can't find it. So once you have a living will, keep it in a safe place and tell your family where it is.

And Johnson recommends having "neighbors" witness your living will and not family members who might inherit some of your belongings. He says people with an interest in your estate could invalidate the living will.

You can have an attorney help you complete a living will or you could fill it out yourself. Forms are available at hospitals, through AARP, or you can download one right here.[Note: you will need Adobe Reader to open this file]
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