Writing your will is a crucial part of creating any estate plan. However, many people also choose to include living wills in their plans, which serve a distinct purpose and can complement a will.
Comprehending the differences between a will and a living will can help you make important decisions when developing your estate plan.
The purpose of a will
Typically, a will is a written document that outlines instructions regarding the distribution of assets after death. Your will can also designate guardians for your children if you are a parent. You can name various beneficiaries in your will and specify how you want to divide your property among them. Finally, you should name a personal representative to administer your estate after you pass.
Living wills and estate plans
A living will can express your wishes regarding medical care decisions when you cannot do so due to incapacity. If you become ill or injured and are unable to communicate or make choices, you living will can convey your overall values and desires regarding healthcare and end-of-life treatments.
It is important to distinguish between living wills, last wills and power of attorney documents, which can name one or more trusted people to act as your agents and make financial, legal and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. By contrast, your living will details your intentions and expectations during similar circumstances. These documents, along with your last will and any trusts you create, can work together to make a comprehensive estate plan.
In estate planning, your will designates which beneficiaries can inherit your property after you pass away, and your living will outlines your wishes regarding treatment and medical care during periods of incapacity.