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Estate planning is not something that everyone thinks about. But it’s an important aspect of protecting your assets and ensuring that you have autonomy over certain decisions. With that said, two important documents that people often get confused about are a will and a living will.

While both of these documents serve an important function, they are not the same. Read on to learn the difference between a will and a living will, the consequences of not having these vital documents in place, and the benefits of hiring a lawyer to create these documents.

What Is a Will?

A will is a type of legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your property, along with the care of any minor children. It’s important to note that a will is something that everyone should have in place. There is a stigma that only wealthy people benefit from having a will, but there are many reasons why anyone would want to have a will included in their estate.

Here are a few reasons why creating a will is important:

  • You can clearly outline who will get your assets
  • You will be able to ensure that your assets don’t fall into the hands of someone you don’t want to have them
  • If you have children, you can establish who will care for them
  • Your heirs will benefit from a faster and more seamless process of gaining access to your assets

With that said, if you want the best possible chance that your wishes will be carried out, it’s a good idea to create something known as a testamentary will. This is a type of will where you prepare the document and then sign it in front of witnesses. A testamentary will is typically seen as the most secure type of will.

What Is a Living Will?

Another important document to think about is a living will. This type of will is also known as an advance directive, which refers to a legal document that allows people to outline their wishes for end-of-life medical care. A living will is something that comes into play in the event you are unable to communicate your decisions.

It’s important to note that a living will no longer have power once a person passes away. With that said, a living will is an invaluable document to include when estate planning. It ultimately provides guidance to family members and healthcare professionals in situations where the individual is unable to express their wishes.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will or Living Will?

Having a will and a living will are two essential documents to add to your estate plan. If you don’t have either of these documents in place, this can lead to complications later. With that said, if you pass away without a will, any wishes that you may have won’t be carried out. Additionally, your heirs will likely end up spending additional time, money, and energy trying to settle your affairs once you’re gone.

If you don’t have a living will and become incapacitated, family members and healthcare professionals will be left to guess what medical decisions are best for your needs. Unfortunately, this can lead to unnecessary disputes that may make it to court if it isn’t properly resolved.

Benefits of a Lawyer When Creating a Will and Living Will

A will and living will are both important documents that have two different functions. However, both documents require you to provide full details in terms of your wishes. For many people, hiring a lawyer to help navigate the small details is often the best option.

To begin with, a lawyer will provide you with peace of mind by ensuring that all the right language is used and all the appropriate pieces are in place when it comes to your will or living will. Additionally, an experienced lawyer will ensure that all the state requirements have been met to ensure the validity of your documents.

Another benefit of hiring an attorney is that they will update your will or living will as necessary. If at any point you need to make an adjustment to your will, an attorney can quickly make these changes on your behalf and provide you with a new, updated version.
By allowing a lawyer to create your will or living will, you will also avoid unnecessary mistakes. Unfortunately, when individuals choose to create these documents on their own, it’s common to overlook state statutes and other requirements. However, an experienced lawyer will know everything that’s needed to create an accurate and valid will or living will that will provide you with the utmost protection.

A will and living will are two essential documents to include in your estate plan. A will is a document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of property. A living will act as an advanced directive that addresses your end-of-life medical decisions.

If you’re preparing to make a will, living will, or both, hiring an experienced lawyer is the best route to go. A lawyer can help you identify the most important decisions to include in your documents, ensures that your will or living will meet all requirements, and ultimately provide you with peace of mind.

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