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  • Aaron W Saoud, Esq.

So What's the Difference Between a Last Will and Living Will, Anyway??

A last will and testament (commonly referred to as a "will") and a living will (also known as an "advance directive") are both legal documents, but they serve different purposes:


1. Last Will and Testament:

- A last will and testament outlines what should happen to a person's assets and belongings after their death. It typically includes instructions for distributing property, naming guardians for minor children, and appointing an executor to oversee the implementation of the will.

- It becomes effective only after the person's death.

- The person creating the will (testator) can modify or revoke it at any time before their death, provided they are mentally competent.


2. Living Will (Advance Directive):

- A living will is a legal document that outlines an individual's wishes regarding medical treatment in case they become incapacitated and are unable to communicate their desires.

- It addresses end-of-life care decisions, such as whether to use life-sustaining treatments like artificial respiration or tube feeding.

- It becomes effective while the person is still alive but unable to communicate their wishes due to illness or injury.

- Living wills can also appoint a healthcare proxy or durable power of attorney for healthcare, who can make medical decisions on behalf of the individual according to their wishes if they are unable to do so themselves.


In summary, while a last will and testament primarily deals with the distribution of assets after death, a living will focuses on healthcare preferences and decisions to be made in case of incapacity during the individual's lifetime. Both documents are important for ensuring a person's wishes are followed, both in life and after death.




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