The Differences Between a Living Will and a Last Will & Testament

Many people confuse a living will with a last will and testament. What’s the difference and do you need both? Here we’ll dive into the differences between a living will and last will & testament, and help you determine your options to keep you informed.

Living Will

A living will is a legal document that provides direct instructions regarding medical care when a person becomes seriously ill or incapacitated and cannot communicate their wishes themselves. The details often outline whether you want to receive artificial respiration, intravenous feedings, and when to stop life support. You can also instruct medical professionals to donate your organs and set limits on how much your family will pay for certain expenses like medical equipment and funeral costs.

This type of will does not go into effect until you become incapacitated, and it will last until you either recover or pass away. At this time, the person you designated as Power of Attorney will represent your wishes and ensure your directives are communicated to the doctors or medical personnel.

One of the most significant benefits of creating a living will is that it can help prevent disputes among your family members, as well as high financial and emotional costs leading to emotional strains.

Last Will and Testament

This legal document, on the other hand, outlines what will happen to your personal assets after death. That’s why it’s important not to confuse a living will with a last will and testament, because if you don’t have this type of will, then the government will distribute your property upon death. This process is called intestate. In a last will and testament, an executor is chosen by the person drafting the will to carry out the details of it after death. The executor is responsible for carrying out the probate process, which includes paying any outstanding bills, debts, and taxes and taking an inventory of your estate before distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.

Which is Best to Have?

Everyone should have both types of wills. Each will ensure that your wishes are carried out, whether you become incapacitated or not before passing. Otherwise, someone will make the decisions for you.

No one wants their family to undergo conflict or to have to make difficult decisions regarding their life. It’s important to talk to an estate planner to help you put together both wills so that your wishes can be properly carried out. To learn more, contact us at The Beacon Group of Financial Management Ltd. today.

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Cory Gagnon

Cory Gagnon

As the Senior Wealth Advisor at Beacon Family Office at Assante, Cory Gagnon has supported successful family enterprises to preserve, protect and transition their wealth since 2011.

Cory’s personal objective as a Wealth Advisor is simple. He is committed to supporting families to take control of the areas of their lives that truly matter to them. This commitment revolves around using specific tools and strategies that enable families to take action with confidence which will support them through life’s critical transitions.

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