We all know that we should have a will to protect ourselves, our assets and our children. However, there are different types of wills out there, which really confuses the situation. There is one question that the majority of people want answering, which is what the difference is between a will and a living will. Understanding the difference between the two is very important, because their purposes are totally different as well. Let’s explore this in greater detail.
What you really need is what is known as an “estate plan”, which consists of two separate elements. The first part of the estate plan discusses decisions you have made for yourself, in case you are no longer able to voice these yourself. For instance, you may be too ill or otherwise incapacitated to speak for you. Part two of the estate plan discusses your wishes after you have died. Hence, your living will is the first part of your estate plan. The regular will, as such, is the second element of the estate plan. One of the things that the living will discusses in the main what you wish to happen if you are being kept alive by machines and basically are no longer able to recover. Basically, it means your family won’t have to decide whether or not they should switch the machines off, as they will know what your wishes are. In a will, on the other hand, you simply tell people how you want your belongings to be divided among your family, friends or charities. In a regular will, you can also outline who you would want to look after your children if they are still minors when you die. Effectively, wills are road maps that describe what gets to go where. The will is bound by state laws, which you must adhere to.
As you can see, there is a huge difference between a will and a living will. They are, however, equally important. If at all possible, you should set up both the living will and the regular will. In doing so, you have created an estate plan. Finally, take into consideration what the legal ramifications of a living will are in your state. There are a number of states that require you to either notarize it or have it signed by two witnesses, other states require both. In the vast majority of states, living wills are declared null and void if you are pregnant. However, as soon as the baby is born, the living will is automatically reinstated. This also means that if you change your mind, you need to make sure your living will is update.