Most people are familiar with the concept of a will. Living wills have also become common in recent years. However, if you are not sure what the difference between the two is, you are not alone.
What is the difference between a will and a living will?
What is a will?
Wills specify how people want to distribute their property after they die. Wills may also include who a person wants to become the legal guardian of any minor children and specify a person to handle distributing the estate. The state distributes the property of anyone who dies without a will according to state law.
What is a living will?
A living will contains instructions that a person wants others to follow if that person becomes incapacitated. Living wills usually concern important medical decisions, such as whether to continue to use life support or other life-sustaining treatments.
Do I need both a will and a living will?
Everyone should consider both a will and a living will during the estate planning process. A will makes sure you have control over what happens to your estate and any minor children you have when you die. A living will ensure that you retain control over your medical decisions if you become incapable of communicating those decisions while you are alive. Both documents reduce uncertainty and take the burden of making difficult decisions off your loved ones.
Wills and living wills are not the only estate planning options you should consider. However, they can both be an important part of your plan.