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Last Will and Testament vs. Living Will: What Are the Differences?

Updated: May 7

There is some confusion between a last will and testament, or simply a will, and a living will. In fact, many people don’t even know there is more than one type of will, which is perfectly fine!

Our experienced estate planning attorney is here to lay out the details of both of them

Last Will and Testament vs. Living Will

For starters, a will and a living are both important and should be part of your estate plan. Both help ensure your wishes are carried out, but that’s where the similarities end.

Here is what you need to know about each one.

What is a Will?

A last will and testament is a document that describes how your property and possessions will be distributed when you pass away. Because of this, it does not become active until after you die.

As the creator of the will, you can change it. This means for as long as you are alive and of sound mind, you can add things to it, take things out, and change beneficiaries.

A will is also revocable, meaning you can dissolve the will entirely if you choose.

What is a Living Will?

A living will tells others what your personal choices are concerning end-of-life medical treatments. It is active while you are still living and directs your doctors and loved ones with treatment instructions should you become incapacitated.

This document details things such as procedures and medications you do or don’t want if you can no longer make those decisions for yourself.

Should I Get a Will or a Living Will?

Your estate plan should include both a will and a living will. You never know what’s going to happen and having both is the only way to ensure all of your final wishes are carried out. This includes asset distribution and healthcare treatment should you become incapacitated.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Will or Living Will?

You are not legally required to hire a lawyer for a will or living will, but it is highly recommended.

While it’s possible to make both of these documents legally binding without an attorney, there can be a lot of nuances when it comes to filing and legal wording.

Courts are very particular about these things, so having an estate planning attorney look over your documents could catch life-changing errors in your will or living will.

Do You Need Help With Your Will or Living Will?

Estate planning can be stressful, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our estate planning attorneys can help lighten the load for you and make sure all documents will hold up in court. To get started, send us a message or call us directly.

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