September 28th, 2022
The Difference Between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament
Although these two documents have very similar names, they serve very different purposes. A living will is a document that expresses the kind of medical treatment that you want or don’t want if you have a terminal condition or you are in a persistent vegetative state. A last will and testament allows you to decide how your estate will be distributed after you pass away.
A living will consists of written healthcare decisions that you have made yourself. In a living will you can specify your preferences such as whether you would want a ventilator, feeding tubes, medication, blood transfusions, and even if you would like to donate your organs. This can often give your loved ones peace of mind when dealing with difficult medical decisions knowing that you have decided a particular course of treatment for yourself. Some other names for a living will are medical directive, advance health care directive, and medical proxy.
A last will and testament describes how you want your property and other assets distributed after you pass away. If you pass away without a will, you are said to be intestate and then the state intestacy laws determine how your property and assets are distributed. Another important aspect of a will is that you can name a guardian for your minor children.
A living will takes effect while you are living, but incapacitated. A last will and testament does not take effect until you have passed away. These instruments serve very different purposes. Most everyone should have both, as they can offer you and your family peace of mind during very difficult times. If you have a need for a living will or last will and testament, you should contact an estate planning attorney to discuss your particular situation.