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How does a living will work?

Ali Katz


Q: How does a living will work?


A: Dear Confused:

Though it can be easy to confuse a “living will” with a “last will and testament” or a “living trust,” these estate planning documents are vastly different.

A “last will and testament,” otherwise known as a “will,” directs who will receive your property upon your death. A “living trust” directs how your affairs and property will be handled while you’re alive and well, incapacitated, and after your death.

A “living will,” however, provides guidelines for how your medical care will be handled in the event that you cannot clearly communicate your wishes. Living wills cover a wide spectrum of medical needs, from end-of-life care to daily personal care.

At one extreme, a living will can provide instructions for whether you want to stay on life support if you’re in a coma and unable to breathe on your own. At the other extreme, it can list the type of food you want or who should be able to visit you if require hospitalization and cannot communicate clearly.

While there are many options for passing on your estate, only a living will can unequivocally state your wishes for end-of-life measures and other types of medical care if you’re unable to communicate those wishes yourself.

A Personal Family Lawyer®, can help you create a living will to clearly establish your medical directives.