A living will can be a very important component of an estate plan. Most estate plans also include a last will and testament. Many people are confused about the difference between living wills and other types of wills. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you of the important differences and help you understand the legal tools that should be part of your comprehensive estate plan.
Parman & Easterday provides invaluable assistance in the creation of an estate plan that allows you to receive medical treatment you need if incapacitated and allows you to control your legacy by determining who inherits your property after you are gone. To learn more about the services we offer, give us a call today.
Living Wills vs. Regular Wills
A last will and testament is what most think of as a “regular will.” The purpose of this last will is to determine what happens after you’re gone. A last will can name a guardian for your underaged children, and provide instructions about your funeral. It can name the person to serve as executor and wind up your estate, and can provide detailed guidelines regarding who should inherit your money and property.
Living wills, on the other hand, have nothing to do with your property and are important before your death. A living will is an important part of your advanced directive for healthcare. An advanced directive for healthcare allows you to determine who can make healthcare choices for you if you are unable to do so and gives you the ability to say if you might want various types of life-saving or life-extending treatment.
As part of your advanced directive, a living will gives you control over healthcare choices even if you can no longer advocate for yourself. It spares your family from having to make painful and difficult choices if you are seriously ill or badly injured because it provides instructions on whether you should receive life-sustaining treatment if:
- You are in a terminal condition;
- You are persistently unconscious; or
- You have an end-stage condition.
You can specify whether or not you want care under these circumstances. You can also provide instructions regarding administration of nutrition and water artificially if you cannot eat or drink. This means you choose in advance whether you want a feeding tube or not.
If you opt out of receiving life-sustaining care such as artificial nutrition or hydration, state laws allow you have medication and treatment to alleviate pain if you authorize it. You will also be given food and water and assisted with oral consumption if you are able to eat or drink.
Without a living will, your family will not know your choices and may not have the right to decide to withhold food, water or care. Not only can this be traumatic, but your family may be unsure of who you want to make decisions about your care. This has led to family fighting and, in some cases, to long, drawn out court battles as family members fight over what care should be given.
Both a living will and a last will and testament should be part of your comprehensive estate plan to protect your family from having to make difficult medical choices and to protect your assets. You must follow state specific rules and regulations in creating your living will and last will so they 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 living wills and last wills and testaments, call us today at (405) 703-9987 or contact us online. You may also join us for a free seminar to learn essential information about living wills, last wills, and other parts of a comprehensive estate plan.