What do I do about a livimg will?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What do I do about a livimg will?

Mother died May 28 and had a living will. Don’t know how to handle it.

Asked on June 20, 2016 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, my sympathy on your loss. My own mother passed three weeks ago, so I know what this is like.
A "living will" has no effect after a person passes away. A "living will" is one of the names for something also called a health care proxy and/or health care advance directive: it details what kind of medical care someone should get if they are unable to make their own decisions (e.g. unconscious, nonresponsive, or mentally incompetent) and/or who can make those decisions for them. Once the person has passed away, however, health care is a moot issue.
If you mean a regular will, then ideally, hire a probate or trusts & estates attorney to help you, so you don't need to deal with this on our own at this time of loss. If you can't afford one, or feel that your mother's estate is not economically large enough (that is, not enough property or money) to justify the cost of an attorney, contact the clerk's office at your county surrogates/probate court for instructions and forms. Court clerks can be very helpful as long as you approach them respectfully.
If you'll excuse some non-legal advice from someone in a similar situation: make some time for yourself now. The practicalities need to be dealt with, but you also need to take care of yourself at such an emotional time. 

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