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Home > Blog > Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts, Deeds, Business Succession) > Will Vs. Living Will: What’s The Difference?

Will Vs. Living Will: What’s The Difference?


When most people hear the phrase “will” they immediately think of someone’s last will and testament. The last will and testament dictates how a person’s estate will be allocated after they die. Perhaps for this reason, most information and thoughts about wills revolve around–or at least involve–death. So what is a living will? Well, in short, it’s totally different. Unlike a last will and testament, a living will does not deal with property, nor does it apply after you are dead. Rather, a living will allows someone to specify their preferences and guidelines for medical care while they are alive, should they be critically injured or become incapacitated. 

When to Make a Last Will & Testament

When it comes to preparing a will, it’s always best to create one sooner rather than later, since you cannot predict the future. This is less of an issue if you do not have assets, or if you would distribute your assets in the same manner as Florida intestate succession statutes would. This is because if you do not have a will, the intestate succession statutes will dictate how your assets are distributed. They generally prioritize your spouse and children, followed by your siblings and parents. If you have assets, and a specific way that you want them distributed, it’s important to create a will. Your will can be amended, revised, and re-written to reflect ongoing changes or desires, so it’s okay if changes arise later.

When to Make a Living Will

You do not need to have assets to necessitate having a living will, only preferences with regard to your care. Particularly in the midst of a pandemic, it has become critical for people to create these documents. These are especially important for people who have strong views or religious ideals that could affect their medical care. For instance, if your religion does not permit blood transfusions, this should be indicated in your living will so that all those responsible for your care are aware that they should not subject you to blood transfusion. Likewise, if you have views about whether you would want to be put on a ventilator or if you would want life-extending measures to be used should you be in a coma, these should be reflected in your living will so that your wishes can be honored.

Should I have a Will or a Living Will?

In general, a comprehensive estate plan would include both a last will and testament and a living will. This is necessary because they both serve completely different functions. While a last will and testament will protect your assets and wishes with regard to your estate, a living will, will protect you in the event that you become seriously injured, ill, or incapacitated such that you cannot voice your own medical decisions.

Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray

If you are ready to begin estate planning and want to make sure that you have all the legal documents necessary to protect your estate and healthcare, the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray are ready to help. Contact West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer Larry E. Bray today to schedule a consultation.

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