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Decoding Last Will and Testament vs Living Will: Understanding the Legal Differences

Decoding Last Will and Testament vs Living Will: Understanding the Legal Differences

Will is the expression of desires of the person. Although the last will and testament vs. living will sound the same, these are legally different documents. These are both separate desires and bring different legal procedures.

The last will describes a person's wishes about the inheritance of his property after his demise. Contrarily, a living will outline a person's future wishes regarding healthcare treatments if he cannot communicate with doctors for family.

Moreover, both wills ensure that your affairs are managed according to your desires. In the coming lines, we will address differences between the last and living will and describe how they function and are monitored.

So stick around until the end, as this article will address the last will and testament vs living will in detail. So, let us move forward!

What is a Living Will?

In simple terms, a living will is a legal document that outlines your desires about what type of medical treatment you want during an end-of-life situation. Furthermore, it could also include your wish for organ donations, medical treatments, and life support. It describes the kinds of lifesaving measures you wish to avoid and take.

Key Features

There are certain features of the living will, which makes it distinguishable from other types of wills. Let us look at some of the critical features of a living will.

  • Preferred Medical Treatment

The main subject of the living will be to describe the preferred medical treatment the person will get if he cannot suggest his treatment in the future.

It is the primary distinguishing point between a living and a last will. 

  • Nominees

A living will can also include names of the persons who can make medical decisions on behalf of the person making the will. These decisions may include whether they want to get life support or not in case there is no hope for recovery.

  • Funeral Requirements

It may seem odd, but a living will can also include the person's wishes about funeral arrangements. It can cover details about cemetery selection and funeral rituals.

  • Power of Attorney

A living must include a power of attorney. The person who can execute the will if it becomes valid is bestowed with the power of attorney. It is vital to pass on this information to the person so that he can execute his power if it becomes legally binding.

  • Revision in Living Will

Likewise, depending on your latest wishes, you are changing your living will from time to time. Professionals should also keep revisiting their living will to resonate with their updated desires.

Moreover, healthcare professionals will consult your living will if you cannot communicate your medical decisions. 

  • Witnesses

To make a living will valid by law, you need two witnesses who will sign the will. Another critical point is that these witnesses should not have any benefit from this will. 

  • Notarization

Few states require you to write your living will on notarization. Therefore, consult your legal advisor to check whether you need a notarization or a simple pen and paper would suffice.

What is the Last Will?

The last will or testament is a law that describes your instructions about distributing your property after your death. Moreover, you will have to nominate a person who will carry out your instructions, known as the executioner.

Moreover, the executioner should avoid having any interest in your last will. Moreover, this now distinguishes the last will and testament vs living will.

Key Features

There are certain key features of the last will; let us look.

  • Validity 

The last will is only valid if it is at most 18 months. If your last will is above 18 months, it automatically becomes null and void. Therefore, you must revisit your will to keep it updated and per your desires.

  • Mentally Competent

A will is only legally valid if made with a stable mind. You can achieve this feat by signing the document with two witnesses. However, these witnesses should be beneficiaries of your last will.

  • Witnesses

Like the living will, the last will also require two witnesses. These witnesses should sign off the document and should have any benefit from the will. Moreover, get each page of your will signed by witnesses to avoid disputes in any part of the will in the future.

Writing a Will

After you have distinguished a living will from the last will, it is time to explore writing a will. Since it is a legal document and makes it binding, it is vital to write it according to legal requirements. Because otherwise, it would mean nothing more than a piece of paper.

Here are vital factors to consider while writing a will (testament or living will).

  • Write the title
  • Name the executor (the person responsible for executing if it becomes mandatory).
  • Name the guardian for the minors
  • Organize full assets
  • Write your will (use a notary if required by the local law)
  • Sign your will in the presence of witnesses
  • Witnesses to sign the will
  • Store your will in a safe place
    We at IronClad Family have the last will vault for you to write and save a proper will 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I revise my last will?

Yes! You can revise your last will as many times as you wish. However, whenever you revise, make sure to discard the previous will. Moreover, legal experts advise you to keep revising your last will to resonate with your latest desires.

How powerful is the last will and testament?

The last will direct the disposition of the deceased's assets; hence, it is powerful in a way that is not challengeable in a court of law. Family and friends are bound to follow the instructions of the last will.

What is meant by last will and testament vs living will?

A living will address only the medical treatment-related issues, whereas the last will addresses assets disposition orders by the deceased person. Both wills require the signatures of the person making the will and two witnesses.

Do I need a lawyer to write my will?

Generally, it is advisable to seek professional help from a lawyer while writing your will. However, you are not required by law to write your will in the presence of a lawyer. Moreover, you can write your will online without consulting a lawyer.

Parting Thoughts

This article thoroughly touches upon the last will and testament vs living will subjects. Many people need clarification on these concepts and treat them the same. However, these are two very different ideas with their unique legal meaning.

The last will defines the proportion of division of the deceased person's assets as per his last will. Likewise, the person making the last will nominate an executioner, who becomes responsible for executing the last will once the person dies.

Furthermore, the living will focus on healthcare-related issues of the person. In this type of will, the person expresses his wishes regarding preferred medical treatment or lifesaving options if he becomes unresponsive.

Both sets of wills must have certain features to make them valid. So, if you want to make your will, Contact IronClad Family for the Last Will and seek professional advice

We hope you are fully aware of the last will and living will. Please leave feedback in the comments section.

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