I’m confused! Are a “Will” and a “Living Will” the Same Thing?

It’s easy to get confused when it comes to legal terms.  Some terms sound like the same thing.  But, they’re not.  Today we’ll be discussing Wills vs. Living Wills, two very different documents.

– A Will (officially called a Last Will and Testament) is a document that states how you want your estate to be handled after you’re gone.  It specifies how your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries, and names the Executor(s) who will oversee your estate to implement your wishes.   Your Will must be admitted to Probate Court where the Executor is “officially” authorized to manage the process.

– A complete Living Will includes an Advance Directive and a Health Care Proxy.  The Advance Directive states what medical treatment you want if you are terminally ill and unable to communicate your wishes.  The Health Care Proxy is where you designate your Health Care Agent, an individual selected by you who will be responsible for overseeing your medical care and ensuring that your wishes are respected.

– Unlike a Will that addresses your wishes after you’re gone, a Living Will provides instructions regarding medical treatment at the end of your life, while you’re still alive.  For example, if you are brain dead, but still breathing, do you want to remain on a ventilator or be removed?  Please note that although not required, it is highly recommended that you identify a Health Care Agent as part of your Living Will (see Health Care Proxy noted above) to speak on your behalf.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga Goodman, can help ensure that your Will and Living Will accurately reflect your wishes and needs, and that all necessary documents are correctly completed and compliant with state laws.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

 

 

 

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