Living wills are a very important component of your estate plan. Your estate plan may also include a last will and testament and even a trust. Many people are confused about the difference between a living will and a last will and testament, and an experienced estate planning attorney can advise you on the important differences between a living will and a last will. The attorney can also help you understand the legal tools that should be included in a comprehensive estate plan.
Parman & Easterday can provide invaluable assistance in creating an estate plan that allows you to receive the medical treatment you want and need should you be incapacitated, and to control your legacy and determine who inherits your property after you are gone. To learn more about the services we offer and about the differences between living wills and last wills, give us a call today.
Living Wills vs. Regular Wills
A last will and testament is what most people would think of as a “regular will.” The purpose of a last will is to determine what happens after your death. A last will can name a guardian for your underaged children, and provide instructions regarding your funeral. Your last will can name a person to act as executor to manage the winding up of your estate and set forth detailed guidelines for who should inherit your money and property.
Living wills, on the other hand, have nothing to do with your property. They are of importance before your death. As the Oklahoma Bar Association explains, a living will is the part of your advanced directive for healthcare that determines who will make healthcare choices for you if you cannot communicate, and allows you to specify the circumstances under which you want life-extending treatment terminated.
As part of your advanced directive, a living will allows you to control your healthcare choices even if you can no longer advocate for yourself. It spares your family from making painful and difficult choices if you are seriously ill or badly injured. A living will allows you to provide instructions regarding whether you should receive life-sustaining treatment if:
- You are in a terminal condition.
- You are persistently unconscious.
- You have an end-stage condition.
You can specify whether you want care under these circumstances. You can provide instructions regarding the administration of nutrition and water artificially if you cannot eat or drink. This means you choose in advance whether you want a feeding tube inserted into your stomach.
If you opt out of receiving life-sustaining care or artificial nutrition or hydration, Oklahoma law allows for administration of medication and treatment to alleviate pain. You will also be given food and water and assisted with oral consumption if you are able to either eat or drink.
Without a living will, your family may not be able to withhold food, water or care even though they know that is what you would want. This can be traumatic. If you haven’t appointed a healthcare proxy in advance, your family may also be uncertain about who should make decisions on your care. This could lead to family fighting and even to a long and drawn out court battle as your family fights over who should be acting on your behalf.
Both a living will and a last will and testament should be part of your comprehensive estate plan. Together they protect your family from having to make difficult medical choices and they protect your assets. Be careful, though. You need to understand the Oklahoma rules and regulations regarding living wills and last wills to be sure the ones you have are legally valid tools in your estate plan.
How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help With Living Wills & Regular Wills
To learn more about how an experienced attorney can assist with the creation of a living will and last will and testament, give us a call today at (405) 843-6100 or contact us online to learn more. You may also want to join us for a free seminar which will provide essential information on living wills, last wills, and other components of your comprehensive estate plan.
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