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Are a Will and a Living Will the Same Thing?

Are a Will and a Living Will the Same Thing?

Chances are that when you think about a will, it evokes mostly thoughts of death. So, what is a living will? And is that different from a regular will? We will answer those questions here. 

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is what most people think about when they hear the phrase “will.” A last will and testament is the legal document responsible for allocating someone’s assets to their beneficiaries after the testator passes away. After someone passes away, their estate goes to probate court. In probate court, it will be determined whether the person has a will and if it is valid. If a person is determined not to have a will, it cannot be located, or it is not valid, then their estate is distributed in accordance with Florida’s intestate succession statutes. These statutes generally prioritize the decedent’s immediate family, including their spouse and any children. If the decedent does not have a spouse or children, their assets may be allocated to their siblings or parents. If you have assets and you want them to go to specific individuals that intestate succession statutes would not distribute them to, it is critical to create a last will and testament. There are certain criteria that must be met in order to have a valid will. It is not as simple as simply writing your last wishes on a piece of paper and signing it. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure that your will is valid and will be legally enforceable. 

Living Will

While a last will and testament controls the property of a testator after they pass away, a living will has nothing to do with property or death. The name, for that reason, might be somewhat misleading. Instead, a living will is a way for people to record any wishes that they have for their own medical treatment in the event that they become seriously injured or incapacitated such that they cannot articulate their own desires. This is particularly important for people who have religious views or strong beliefs about their medical care that they want to be enforced. For instance, if your religion does not allow for blood transfusions or the performance of certain medical procedures, it is important to include this in your living will so that your doctors will be aware of your wishes and can avoid procedures that conflict with your wishes. Likewise, if you would not want a ventilator or certain life-extending measures used on you, these wishes should be articulated in a living will. While everyone would benefit from a living will, particularly during a pandemic, people with chronic or terminal illnesses have a particularly pressing need for this legal document. 

Contact the SG Law Firm

If you have questions about estate planning or are ready to create your own comprehensive estate plan, the experienced estate planning attorneys at the SG Law Firm are ready to help. Contact the SG Firm today to schedule a consultation and start working toward a more secure future.

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