Legal terms and document names can often be confusing. You might think that a Will and a Living Will, both having “Will” in the name, would be similar, but they are quite different. Understanding the difference between them illustrates the importance of having a full set of estate planning documents.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is a legal document wherein you indicate your wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as artificial nutrition and hydration, CPR, continuing or withdrawing life
support, resuscitation, and pain management. A Living Will comes into effect when you have a substantial and irreversible loss of mental capacity and are either unable to eat and drink without artificial feeding (often due to being in a vegetative state) or have an incurable or irreversible condition. It supplements your health care proxy and is used
as evidence of your wishes and intentions.
What is a Last Will and Testament?
In a Last Will and Testament, you set forth how and to whom your estate will be distributed upon your death. You appoint an Executor to manage your estate and financial affairs after your passing, and make whatever bequests and inheritance
arrangements you desire, leaving your assets as you see fit to family members, other
loved ones or charities. If you have minor children, you can appoint a guardian and establish trusts for the management of their inheritance. You may wish to create trusts for minor grandchildren as well.
Do You Need a Will, Living Will, or Both?
Everyone needs both a Will and a Living Will as part of their estate plan. A Living Will is an advance directive, which, along with a Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney, makes sure that you have decision makers in place for both health care and financial decisions in the event of your incapacity. A Last Will and Testament is a part of your
estate plan that handles your affairs after your death. If you pass away without a Will, the New York State laws of intestacy will determine who inherits your assets.
Having both a Will and a Living Will is essential and having an experienced and focused
law firm like Cona Elder Law is critical for ensuring your documents reflect your wishes.
Contact us to create your customized trusts, estates and Elder Law plan.
Jennifer B. Cona, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Cona Elder Law PLLC. Cona Elder Law is an award-winning law firm concentrating in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate administration and litigation, and health care law. The firm has been ranked the #1 Elder Law Firm by Long Island Business News for eight consecutive years. For additional information, visit conaelderlaw.com.