From Our “Ask a Question,” Mailbag: “What is the difference between a Will and a Living Will?”
What is the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?
In short, a Will dictates what happens to your things when you die. A Living Will is a statement to your doctor about your wishes to remaining or not remaining on life support.
Let me give you some more details.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document. This document spells out how your probate assets pass at your death. It can also appoint a guardian for your minor children, the Executor to carry out your plan, and a funeral agent with the power to organize your final arrangements. The Will can also set up protective Testamentary Trusts. These trusts can shelter assets for your spouse and children. A Will can be long or short, simple, or complex. Your unique situation, and of your family, and how much protection you wish to grant your heirs dictate the terms.
For more information about Estate Planning and using trusts in your Will, follow this link to Estate Planning All You Need to Know.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a legal document. This document explains to your doctor your thoughts on receiving end-of-life treatment, and when to remove this treatment. If you are competent, you make these decisions yourself. Your doctor consults your Living Will only when you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
For more detailed information, read my article Living Wills All You Need to Know.
A Medical Power of Attorney or a Medical Directive often accompanies the Living Will. These documents appoint an agent with the power to sign for you on all medical decisions. Included in these powers is the removal of care. Should a doctor believe it is time to stop medical treatment, the documents can work together to require your Agent to approve the doctor’s decision.
A Proper Estate Plan has Both a Will and a Living Will.
A typical estate plan includes at least three documents: the Will, the Living Will, and the Financial Power of Attorney. The Financial Power of Attorney appoints an agent to manage your finances, while the Living Will addresses medical issues.
Many other estate planning documents address specific needs. For more, please read my article on Important Estate Planning Documents For Life Events.
In Conclusion: What is the difference between a Will and a Living Will.
I hope you found helpful this short article about What is the difference between a Will and a Living Will. I have also included some links for more detailed information. If you are curious about updating your Will, Power of Attorney, or Living Will, contact us and let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
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