Is a last will and testament the same as a living will?

On behalf of Bebout, Potere, Cox & Bennion, P.C. posted in blog on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

You may have heard the term “living will” and wonder if this is the same as a last will and testament. The answer is that they are two different types of documents.

A last will and testament only becomes active after your death, while a living will can take effect during your lifetime.

Creating a living will

To make a living will, you must be over the age of 18 and considered to be of sound mind. The living will provides doctors and other healthcare professionals with your instructions in the event you are not able to do so. You may sustain a head injury, for example, and lapse into a coma. This document will give guidance about the healthcare measures you want or do not want doctors to take on your behalf. Once completed, you should provide a copy of your living will to your physician to include in your medical file.

Drawing up your will

As with a living will, an attorney can help you prepare your last will and testament in accordance with Michigan laws. The will is your opportunity to give direction as to how your property and assets should be distributed after you pass away. You may want your heirs to share your assets equally, but you can also use your will to make specific bequests. You should name an executor in your will, and you can also name a guardian to care for any minor children in the event of your death.

Dying without directives

If you never come out of your coma and have not made a living will, your spouse or the doctors will make healthcare decisions for you. If you pass away without a will, the state of Michigan will take care of distributing your assets, which may not happen the way you would have preferred.

Important estate planning documents

No matter what age you are now, you are smart to think ahead. An attorney will tell you that both the will and the living will are documents to include in an estate plan that will cover all your needs and protect your family.

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