What’s the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will?

People don’t like to think about the need for a will, but having a plan in place is important. Also, many people have wills, but forget the importance of a living will. Living wills provide for your interests after death, while a living will provides for your interest while you are alive.

Last Will and Testament

A will outlines how you’d like your property to be distributed to your loved ones, known as your beneficiaries, after your death. You can use a will to pass on whatever property you own. Wills also allow you to name the guardians of your children. You also name an executor of your will, or the person who will carry out your wishes and the distribution of your property. 

Wills are important because they provide guidelines to your loved ones and the state to show you’d like your property distributed. Without one, your property is considered intestate, which means that the state will automatically divide your property according to predetermined laws. In Florida, this means that your surviving spouse, if you are married, will receive all property if you have no children. If you are married and have children, half of the property will go to your spouse and the other half to your children in equal parts. These contingencies continue until the state finds the closest relative to receive your estate.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will, on the other hand, handles important aspects of your wishes while you’re alive. A living will allows you to specify what types of treatment you’d like to receive or not receive in case you are in a medical situation where there may not be a reasonable medical expectation of recovery. In other words, you choose which life-prolonging procedures health care workers are able to administer to you.  Usually, along with your living will, there is the designation of a health care surrogate. A health care surrogate is a person who acts as your agent to make sure that the hospital or health care worker follows your wishes. A final document that normally goes along with a living will is a declaration of preneed guardian. This designation allows you to choose a person to act as your agent in case you are incapacited and unable to make decisions for yourself financially for your property or estate. These documents can be a great way to provide yourself with the security of knowing that your wishes will be respected even if you become unable to execute them yourself. 

If you’re interested in adding a will or a living will to your existing estate plan, or want to get started on a plan customized to your needs, contact Heather Bryan Law today to schedule your consultation.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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