With names that sound so similar, you might think these two documents are basically the same thing. But while both can be an essential part of your estate plan, the two are used for very different purposes.
A Will is a legal document that you use to specify what will happen to your belongings after you die. With your Will, you appoint an Executor who will act on behalf of your estate during the probate process, ensuring that your final bills are paid and your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes. If you have minor children, you can also use your Will to name a guardian to oversee their care (assuming both parents have passed on), and you can name a trustee to manage finances on their behalf.
A Living Will on the other hand, is part of a set of legal documents called Advanced Medical Directives. These documents are used to protect you and your property in the event that you become incapacitated. The Living Will specifically addresses how you’d like to be treated in certain medical situations. For example, do you want mechanical breathing support, such as a ventilator? What about a feeding tube? Your Living Will can outline the types of life-sustaining measures you do – or don’t – want.
Another difference is that a Will has absolutely no legal effect until the time of your death, whereas a Living Will is just the opposite – it’s only effective while you’re still alive. Any attempt to put healthcare instructions in your Will would be useless, because not only is a Will not binding while you’re still alive, but often your loved ones don’t even begin looking for the Will until after your death.
Clearly, both documents serve an important purpose in the estate planning process. To learn more about what documents you might need in your estate plan, contact the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia today by calling 1-800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.