Multilingual Language Translation and the Living Will

We’ve blogged about the importance of professional foreign language translations for estate planning. At its most basic definition, a living will is a legal document that specifies exactly how one wants things run in the case he or she becomes medically incapacitated by, for example, a coma or Alzheimer’s. A living will is only valid so long as the person is alive (otherwise a last will and testament will go into effect). Typically, the living will shall cover:

  • What medical treatments one is willing to receive
  • Whether one wants CPR to be performed or one’s heart to be restarted
  • If the hospital has permission to intubate one for breathing and/or feeding
  • Whether one wishes to receive painkillers or dialysis.

Every state has specific rules for creating a valid living will. However, things can become more complicated when a foreign language speaker is involved. In such a case, it is essential to demonstrate that the terms of the living will are in fact the understood intent of the person creating the will. To do this, it is best to create the will – and have it signed – in the person’s native language.

This, of course, will require a foreign language interpretation. Second, the original will should then have a foreign language translation into English for purposes of both filing and for use as needed.

Up Next: Professional Legal Translation and Taxing International Partnerships