Do I Need to Have My South Carolina Living Will Witnessed or Notarized?

In South Carolina, you must sign your health care directives in front of witnesses and a notary.

In South Carolina, you may describe your wishes for health care in a living will and medical power of attorney. In your living will (sometimes called a declaration), you can describe and document the kind of health care you would like to receive if you can no longer speak for yourself. In your durable power of attorney for health care, you can name a trusted person -- called your health care agent or attorney-in-fact -- to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are no longer able to do so.

Sign Your South Carolina Health Care Directives in Front of Witnesses and a Notary

After you create your documents, you and two witnesses must sign them in front of a notary public.  Each document has different rules regarding who can serve as a witness:

The witnesses for your declaration must not be:

  • related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
  • your attending physician
  • an employee of your attending physician
  • a person directly financially responsible for your medical care
  • a person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will
  • a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, or
  • a person who has a claim against your estate.

No more than one of your witnesses may be an employee of a health care facility where you are a patient. If you are in a hospital or nursing care facility when you sign your declaration, at least one of your witnesses must be an ombudsman designated by the state.

The witnesses for your health care power of attorney must not be:

  • your health care agent
  • your attending physician
  • an employee of your attending physician
  • related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
  • directly financially responsible for your medical care
  • the beneficiary of an insurance policy on your life
  • a person with a claim against your estate at the time you sign your document, or
  • a person entitled to any portion of your estate by operation of law or under your will.

In addition, only one witness may be an employee of a health facility in which you are a patient.

What to Do With Your Signed Health Care Directives

After your documents are signed and notarized, they are legally valid. Keep the originals in your files and give a copy to your health care agent, if you named one. To ensure that you get the health care that you want, it’s a good idea to make your wishes widely known. You might also consider giving copies of your documents to your physician, your hospital, your HMO or other insurance plan, and trusted family members and friends.

Review your documents every few years to make sure that they still reflect your wishes. Also, consider making new documents if you move to another state, get married or divorced, or if your health care agent is no longer able to supervise your wishes.

Your properly finalized documents will stay in effect until you revoke them, if you ever choose to do so. You can revoke your documents at any time. The best way to revoke is to do it in writing. If possible, also collect and tear up all copies that you may have distributed to others. Finally, tell everyone who knows about your health care documents that you have revoked them.

Learn More

Learn more about Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

Learn more about South Carolina Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney.

When you make a declaration and health care power of attorney with Quicken WillMaker Plus, they will conform to all of South Carolina’s laws about living wills and health care powers of attorney. And they will print with plain English instructions that detail how to make them legal. 

 

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