What is a Living Will vs Will?

What is a Living Will vs Will?
living will vs will

A will and a living will are both important legal documents, but they serve very different purposes. It is essential that you understand the key differences between the two to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the way you desire. While both wills and living wills can protect your interests and provide guidance for those who will be managing your estate, they provide different directions depending upon the circumstances. In this guide, we will discuss the purpose of a will and a living will, why it matters to have each of them, and their differences, so you can make an informed decision about which document best suits your needs.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that defines the distribution of a person’s assets after they pass away. It also appoints someone to take care of their affairs, such as managing their estate and carrying out the terms of the will.

When it comes to writing a will, the individual creating it must be of sound mind and able to fully understand the implications of the document. Usually a lawyer or other relevant professional can assist in the drafting of a will.

The purpose of a will is to ensure that your wishes are expressed regarding the distribution of your possessions. This includes money, property and other assets, and typically names an executor of the will. The executor is responsible for carrying out the instructions of the will.

Limitations of a Will come into effect when more than one will is created, or it is not in alignment with the laws of the state. For example, if a will does not take into account certain rights of applicable family members, it may be declared invalid.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a document that is created by an individual while they are still alive to give instructions about their medical care and end-of-life wishes. It allows the person to put into writing what they want to happen should they become unable to communicate their wishes due to medical conditions or terminal illnesses.

Living wills may be created at any time, even if the person is currently healthy. It is important to note that this is different from the traditional last will and testament which is created to provide instructions about the distribution of the person's estate when they die. A living will only applies to medical decisions.

A living will may contain a range of instructions, such as whether life support should be discontinued if it appears that recovery is not possible, or whether extraordinary measures should be taken to extend life. It may also include instructions about treatments that the individual does or does not wish to receive, such as dialysis, chemotherapy, or other forms of medical care.

It is important to note that there are limitations to what a living will can do. It cannot be used to grant power of attorney to another individual and it cannot override the decisions of medical professionals. The document only provides guidance for medical decisions and does not override any legal or ethical obligations a doctor or healthcare practitioner may have.

Key Differences between a Will and a Living Will

When it comes to planning for the future, understanding the differences between a will and a living will can make a world of difference. While they may both help people outline their wishes in the event of serious illness or death, they are two very different documents that have different implications.

A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s property or affairs should be handled upon his or her death. It may name beneficiaries, assign guardianship of minor children, and even create trusts. A will is created with consideration of one’s overall estate plan and is meant to take effect after they pass away.

On the other hand, a living will is a legal document that outlines the types of medical care and treatments an individual wishes to receive during serious illnesses, such as when they are near death or in an end-of-life situation. This document can come into play if an individual becomes unable to make medical decisions on their own behalf.

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    The key difference between a will and a living will is that a will only takes effect after a person’s death, while a living will comes into play when someone is still alive. The purpose of a living will is to make sure that a person’s wishes regarding their medical care are honored, even if they become unable to express them.

    Understanding the differences between these two documents is important, as they allow individuals to make sure their wishes are carried out, regardless of the circumstances. Creating both documents can provide peace of mind, as it ensures that a person’s wishes are followed regardless of what happens.

    The Benefits and Drawbacks of Writing a Will Versus Writing a Living Will

    Creating a will or living will can be a difficult decision. Each carries its own risks and benefits. It is important to understand the differences between the two and how they can affect you and your loved ones in order to make an informed choice.

    The Benefits of Writing a Will

    • A will allows you to decide how your assets and possessions are to be distributed upon your death.
    • It grants the executor of your will control over any assets that you have left behind.
    • The executor appointed by you can fulfill any requests that you may have left within the will.
    • It offers a level of protection for your beneficiaries, as their rights are clearly outlined.

    The Drawbacks of Writing a Will

    • Writing a will requires careful thought and planning in order to ensure that everything is in order according to your wishes.
    • The process of drafting a valid and legally sound will can take time and require professional legal assistance.
    • Your assets may be subject to inheritance taxes, which can reduce the total amount that is passed on to your beneficiaries.

    The Benefits of Writing a Living Will

    • A living will gives you the power to express your wishes in the event of an incapacitating medical condition.
    • It lets you detail the type of medical interventions and treatments that you are willing to receive or refuse.
    • Your medical decisions and wishes are clearly outlined, avoiding any guesswork for your loved ones.
    • It helps to relieve your family from making difficult decisions in difficult times.

    The Drawbacks of Writing a Living Will

    • Writing a living will involves making tough decisions and it can be difficult to contemplate certain medical scenarios.
    • You must be sure to update your living will as needed, as your medical status and wishes may change over time.
    • Your family may disagree with your end-of-life choices, which can cause conflict.

    When Should You Create a Will or Living Will?

    It is important to consider creating a will or living will at different stages of life. Generally, people should create a will after they enter adulthood and after they have obtained assets, such as property or investments. It is recommended that you update your will regularly to reflect any changes in circumstances or new assets.

    A living will is usually created once a person reaches the age of majority or when they become seriously ill. Unlike a will, a living will does not take effect in the event of death; it’s a document specifically designed to express your wishes if you become incapacity or severely ill. It decides how you would like to be cared for and what medical interventions you would agree to.

    Writing either a will or living will is a serious decision and should be approached carefully. It’s best to consult with a lawyer first to ensure that all legal requirements are met. In addition, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each document. Drafting a will allows you to decide which of your assets go to which heirs upon your death. However, the process can be costly and time-consuming. On the other hand, creating a living will allows you to decide in advance how much medical intervention you would want, while also providing alleviation to family members from having to make difficult decisions about your care.


    A will and living will are both important documents that individuals should consider creating, depending on their circumstances. Wills are a document typically used to designate what should be done with a person’s property and assets after they die, while living wills are documents used to document the wishes of an individual regarding medical care and life-sustaining treatments if they become unable to make decisions for themselves. Both documents are important and should be carefully thought out and written under the advisement of a lawyer or legal expert. It is important to understand the differences between these two documents before making your decisions.