One of the most crucial estate planning documents is a will, but there is also a legal document called a living will that is worth learning about. The Alatsas Law Firm can help you with both of these matters, and it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what both documents entail to decide which is best for you.

Here is some information about the difference between a will and living will and also the purpose of a living will should you choose to create one.

Define Living Will  

A living will is an advance directive and written statement that describes types of medical care that you want or does not want to receive in the event that you are incapacitated and cannot communicate your preferences. Living wills are most relevant when a person is suffering from a life-threatening injury or illness and doctors need to know whether to administer life-sustaining measures, such as a feeding tube or assisted breathing apparatus.

Purpose of a Living Will

Living wills are no substitute for you explaining your medical care preferences when you are physically and mentally able to do so. The purpose of a living will is to address life-threatening situations and provide guidance to medical professionals during critical times of need. This is useful because many family members are unaware of a person’s medical care wishes, so having this document in place ensures that your wishes are carried out even if you aren’t able to communicate them.

Living Will vs. Will

The primary difference between a will and living will is that a living will is only focused on healthcare decisions while you are alive, while a standard will address your money and property wishes after your death. The timing in which both documents take effect is very different because a regular will only take effect after your death, while a living will is only relevant while you’re alive. A living will typically only go into effect when you are in a coma or vegetative state and unable to communicate about potentially life-saving or end-of-life treatment.

A living will include wishes to donate organs, the desire to receive pain medication, and the decision to be resuscitated via electric shock or ventilation. Meanwhile, a regular will focuses on naming beneficiaries, allocating assets, and specifying how debts and taxes should be paid after your death.

Something similar between a living will vs. will is that you can nominate a person to make decisions on your behalf. This person for a regular will is an executor who will distribute assets to your beneficiaries. This person for a living will is a healthcare agent or healthcare power of attorney who can make your health-related decisions while you’re alive but unable to do so yourself.

How to Establish a Living Will or Regular Will in New York

Many people in New York choose to set up both a regular will and a living will because they are both very important and serve two distinct purposes. A living will protect your interests if you become very ill or are seriously injured, while a regular will can make sure your money and possessions go to the rightful heirs.

Contact Alatsas Law Firm at 718-233-2903 for all your regular will and living will need in New York. Although the process of setting up any kind of will can seem complex and confusing, thoughtful estate planning decisions will bring much-needed peace of mind and help you take care of the ones you love for the future.

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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