Do you ever think about what happens after death – your own death, that is?
But while what happens to people when they die is largely unknown to mankind, what we do know, for certain, is life will continue for everyone you’ll leave behind.
Something will need to be done to your assets after you die and if you fall into a coma, someone will make medical decisions on your behalf.
This is where a living will and last will and testament come in.
Read this living will vs last will guide to gain a better understanding of how these two documents differ and why you need them both.
Living Will vs Last Will: The Differences
Most people have embraced the fact they will die at some point. However, you don’t have to die to be incapable of making important decisions about your health and life.
For instance, if you fall into a coma, you won’t be able to speak or communicate in any way.
What would you want to be done to you in this event? Would you prefer to be kept on life support for as long as possible or you’d prefer to be taken off life support after a certain amount of time?
Would you want a specific person to make medical decisions for you?
What about your burial rites?
Do you want to be cremated or buried traditionally, or cremated than buried?
Would you love to donate your body, or some of your organs, to medical research?
All these questions can be settled in a living will.
This is a legal document that fleshes out your wishes in the event that you’re unable to communicate or make sound decisions, such as when you’re on life support.
On the other hand, a last will and testament fleshes out your instructions regarding your assets; such as cash in the bank, real estate, motor vehicles and machinery, and stocks.
How would you like your assets to be distributed when you’re no more?
If you die without a last will and testament, the courts in your state will decide how to distribute your wealth, in accordance with the relevant laws.
This effectively means some of your assets could end up with people who you’d have left out of your will.
When Do You Need a Living Will and a Last Will?
About 50 percent of Americans don’t have a will or living trust. More worryingly, 81 percent of people over 71 years old don’t have these plans in place.
A big reason such a high number of people don’t have wills is they don’t know when it’s the right time to have them.
Or they believe they don’t have attributable wealth.
The truth is any person who’s legally an adult, wealthy or not, needs a will.
If you don’t have any assets yet, fine, but you do need a living will.
A law firm like Lees & Lees that specializes in estate planning can help you get started.
Plan for Your Life and Estate
After reading this living will vs last will guide, you now know how the two vital legal documents differ.
A living will largely focus on medical or end-of-life decisions while the last will focuses on your assets.
You need them both.
Keep reading our blog for more estate planning tips and insights.