What is the Difference Between a Living Will & A Last Will and Testament?
When you begin to think about creating an estate plan, you may consider things like the creation of a living will and testament. A living will is actually very different from a last will and testament. While both should generally be a part of your comprehensive estate plan, you need to understand the different purposes that each of these legal tools serve.
A Loveland, Ohio estate planning attorney at The Zimmer Law Firm can provide you with assistance in understanding what a living will is, how it is used, and what you need to do to create a living will.
We can also provide you with advice on the creation of your last will and testament. Give us a call as soon as you can so we can begin working on your personalized plan to protect your assets and secure your future.
What is the Difference Between a Living Will & a Last Will?
A last will and testament is designed to help you facilitate the distribution of assets after your death. When you create a will, you name someone who will serve as executor and oversee the winding up of your estate. You can also include details in your will about who should inherit all of the property you own at the time of your death.
Unless you have put your property into trusts or it is jointly owned, a will is going to be the determinative guide for how property should be passed on after you pass away. Without a will, intestacy laws would apply and you would lose control over who gets your assets.
In addition to specifying who should inherit property, your will can also contain other clauses as well. For example, you could specify what you want for your funeral when you create a will. It is up to you what you want to include in the will, within the bounds of Ohio law. An estate planning lawyer can assist you in determining the clauses and provisions that you may wish to make part of your will.
The creation of a will gives you control after your death and helps to prevent your family fighting over assets. However, it does not provide any instructions for what happens if you are alive but incapacitated. A living will, on the other hand, can provide instructions that apply while you are still alive but gravely ill.
According to the Cleveland Clinic: the purpose of a living will is: “to document your wish that life-sustaining treatment, including artificially or technologically supplied nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn if you are unable to make informed medical decisions and are in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state.”
You are considered to be in a permanently unconscious state if you’re permanently unaware of yourself and unaware of your surroundings. At least two doctors must indicate that you are unable to feel pain as a result of the total loss of higher brain function.
You are considered to have a terminal condition if your condition is not treatable and is irreversible. The condition may have been caused by illness or injury. At least two physicians must concur that the condition is likely to result in imminent death without life-sustaining treatment.
Your living will provides details on what types of extraordinary measures should be taken in the event of a terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. It does not authorize the withdrawal of comfort care or pain management. You can address whether you want CPR to be performed, or whether you want nutrition or hydration to be supplied through technology such as a feeding tube.
The creation of a living will, therefore, gives you the chance to maintain some degree of autonomy and some control over your medical future, even if a serious illness or injury has left you unable to communicate your wishes.
The living will matters at the end of your life to protect your dignity and avoid unwanted medical care, while the last will and testament matters after you have passed because it allows you to control your legacy.
Getting Legal Help with a Living Will and Testament
A Loveland, OH living will and testament lawyer at The Zimmer Law firm can help you to understand the role of a living will and the role of a last will and testament as a part of your comprehensive estate plan.
Give us a call at 513.721.1513 to find out how we can help you to create a living will as well as a last will. You can also join us for a free seminar to discover more key things you need to know about preparing for your future.