Many people are confused about the differences between a will and a living will and wonder which document best fits their situation. However, a will and a living will are not variations of the same document, like how a living trust is a specific type of trust. A will and a living will serve two completely different purposes, and it is likely that you could benefit from creating both.
How might a will benefit me?
A will, sometimes called a last will and testament, is a legal document with the primary purpose of detailing how you want your assets distributed after your death. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to cookie-cutter standards set out in Pennsylvania’s intestate succession laws.
Other benefits of a will include:
- Selecting a guardian for minor children
- Disinheriting someone who would stand to inherit under intestate succession laws
- Choosing someone to manage your final affairs and distribute your assets according to your wishes
- Reducing the time your estate spends in probate
How might a living will benefit me?
A living will is a type of advance health care directive. Its main purpose is to describe what values are most important to you at the end of your life and detail your preferences for or against certain medical treatments. Your living will can relay this information to your doctors and your alternate decision-makers if something renders you unable to express your wishes yourself.
Some treatments you may share your wishes for or against include:
- Artificial nutrition
- Machine-assisted breathing
There is no way to know when you may be seriously injured, become incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly. Because the future is uncertain, it may be prudent for you, and almost every adult, to put your wishes on paper in both a will and a living will.