The difference between a living will and a last will and testament

What is a living will vs will?

A living will and a last will and testament are two different legal documents that serve very distinct purposes. A living will is a document outlining an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatments and end-of-life care in the event they become unable to make decisions due to serious illness or injury. In California, a Living Will is most commonly referred to as a Healthcare Directive.  A last will and testament, on the other hand, is a document that details an individual’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and belongings after death. In some cases, both documents may be drawn up by the same person to ensure their wishes are carried out in both situations.

What is a living will?

A living will, most commonly referred to as a Healthcare Directive, typically outlines an individual’s views on medical treatments they would or would not like to receive in certain situations. For example, a living will may specify that an individual does not want to be placed on life support or receive certain treatments if their condition becomes terminal.

What is a last will and testament?

A last will and testament, however, is used to name beneficiaries of an estate and to specify how assets should be distributed upon death. This document may also include designations for guardianship of minor children.

Can I combine a living will and last will and testament?

Sometimes, a person may choose to combine both documents into one comprehensive plan that outlines their wishes for both medical treatments and the distribution of assets after death. Regardless of which route is taken, it’s important to note that living wills and will are two separate legal documents that serve different purposes. By understanding the differences between them, individuals can ensure their wishes are carried out no matter the circumstance. 

It’s always wise to have these documents prepared by a professional in order to ensure the language is accurate and legally binding. Doing so can help to ensure your wishes are carried out even in the most difficult of circumstances. At Laguna Legal, we help prepare legal documents and have the expertise to help you with your estate planning.

Living will vs will: Do I need both?

Living wills and last will and testaments may seem similar, but they serve very distinct purposes. A living will, most commonly referred to as a Healthcare Directive,  is used to make decisions about medical treatments in the event of serious illness or injury, while a last will and testament is used to distribute assets after death. It’s important to understand the differences between these documents in order to ensure that an individual’s wishes are carried out no matter the circumstance.

Laguna Legal: Legal Document Service

If you’d like help preparing legal documents to make things easier for your loved ones, Laguna Legal is here to help. We typically recommend that our clients opt for a living trust over a will, which allows your loved ones to skip the lengthy and expensive probate process. Our fee for a complete estate plan is $950 and includes the following important documents:  Revocable living trust, certification of trust, pour-over will, durable power of attorney, and healthcare directive.  Contact us today to learn how we can best help you! 

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