Do I Need to Have My Rhode Island Living Will Witnessed or Notarized?

In Rhode Island, signing requirements depend on which health care documents you make.

In Rhode Island, 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 may 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 may name a trusted person (called your health care agent) to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are no longer able to do so.

How to Finalize Your Rhode Island Health Care Documents

After you make your documents, you must finalize them to make them legal. In Rhode Island, signing requirements depend on which documents you make.

Living will. You and two witnesses must sign your declaration. Neither of your witnesses related to you by blood or marriage.

Durable power of attorney for health care. How you finalize your power of attorney for health care depends on what powers you give to your agent. If you grant your agent power to direct final arrangements after your death, you must sign your document and have it notarized. If you do not grant this power, you may choose to sign your document in front of two witnesses or a notary public.

If your document will be notarized, the notary may not be:

  • related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
  • entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.

If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:

  • under the age of 18
  • your health care agent
  • a health care provider
  • an employee of a health care provider
  • the operator of a community care facility, or
  • an employee of an operator of a community care facility.

In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.

What to Do With Your Signed Documents

After you and the witnesses or notary sign your health care documents, they are legally valid. Keep the originals in your files and give copies to your health care agent, if you named one. To ensure 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 agent is no longer able to supervise your wishes.

Your properly finalized living will and power of attorney for health care 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.

Get More Information

Learn more about Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

Learn more about Rhode Island Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care.

When you make your health care documents with Quicken WillMaker Plus, they will conform to Rhode Island law. Your documents will also print with plain English instructions telling you how to make them legal. 

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