For people of any age, estate planning allows them to make decisions about what will happen in the future. In many cases, the focus of an estate plan will be on what happens after a person’s death, and this will be covered in part by their last will and testament, which is commonly referred to as a will. However, multiple types of estate planning documents, including a living will, can also be used to address how issues such as medical care will be handled throughout the remainder of a person’s life. By understanding the differences between wills and living wills, a person and their loved ones can ensure that their wishes will be followed correctly.
Wills vs. Living Wills
A last will and testament is used to make decisions about how a person’s final affairs will be handled after their death, including who will inherit their property and assets. It will name a person known as an executor who will complete the probate process and ensure that the deceased person’s instructions will be followed when distributing their assets to their family members or other beneficiaries. A will can also be used to nominate a person as the guardian of the deceased person’s minor children, and it can specify the deceased person’s wishes for their funeral and burial or cremation.
The term “living will” would seem to indicate that it is a document that covers similar issues as a last will and testament prior to a person’s death. However, a living will can only address certain types of specific issues, and it will only apply in certain situations. Basically, a living will can make decisions about the medical care a person receives prior to their death, ensuring that their wishes will be followed if they cannot make these wishes known. To make decisions about medical treatment in other situations, other estate planning tools such as powers of attorney may be used.
The terms of a living will only go into effect if a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness and is unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate their wishes to medical providers. A person’s condition must be incurable and irreversible, and death must be imminent. That is, medical treatment will not be able to save a person’s life, but will only prolong the amount of time before their death. In their living will, the person can state whether they do or do not want to receive medical treatment that would delay their death. For example, a living will may state that a person wants to be kept alive as long as possible, or it may state that they only want to receive treatment that will provide them with comfort and ease their passing as much as possible.
Contact Our DuPage County Living Will Attorney
At A. Traub & Associates, we can help you understand your options for making decisions about your medical treatment, your property, and other issues. We will work with you to ensure that all estate planning documents are executed correctly, providing you with peace of mind that your wishes will be followed, no matter what happens. Contact our Wheaton estate planning lawyers today at 630-426-0196 to set up a consultation and learn how we can address your needs.