A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away.
These individuals and charities are commonly referred to as beneficiaries in your last will. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that the testator's wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon the testator's death. Dying without making a will means you'll have no say over who receives your property. State laws will decide. In some states, only 1/2 of one's assets go to the surviving spouse. Depending on your situation, the rest would go to your children, parents or close relatives. If you have minor children, a judge will decide who cares for them, and the situation may not be ideal.
A living will, on the other hand, is commonly referred to as an advance directive and is a document that provides instructions regarding end-of-life care. Living wills allow you to make your own choices about life support and helps prevent confusion about the type of care you do or do not want in the event you become incapable of communicating your wishes. Without a living will, the laws in your state will determine who will make your health care decisions. Your state's law says who'll make your health care decisions if you don't have an advance directive. If no one is designated, a judge might decide who gets to make those decisions, and that person would do so without written guidance from you. In a living will, you can choose to have your life prolonged as much as reasonably possible by procedures like tube feeding or mechanical respiration. Or you can say you don't want to be kept alive by artificial means. You also can name someone to be in charge of making sure your wishes are honored, and to make other health care decisions for you.
By choosing to start your pre-planning with us, we give our clients the necessary added resources and tools to help further guide in making both your last will and testament along with your living will. We provide occasional in-house workshops where we invite professionals in the legal industry to come in and go further with you on what is needed to make these decisions concrete for when you pass or for when you're unable to communicate your wishes. Schedule your pre-plan discussion to learn more about our in-house workshops.