Estate planning is not something that everyone thinks about. But it’s an important aspect of protecting your assets and ensuring you have autonomy over certain decisions. With that said, two important estate planning documents that people often get confused about are wills and living wills. While both 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, and the benefits of hiring a Ventura will lawyer to create these documents.
What Is a Will?
A will—also called a “Last Will and Testament”—is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and a guardian for your minor children.
It’s important to note that a will is something that everyone should have in place. There is a common misconception that only wealthy people benefit from having a will, but there are many reasons that anyone would want to have a will included in their estate plan.
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
- You can decide who will serve as the personal representative – or executor – of your estate when you pass away
With that said, if you want the best chance that your wishes will be carried out, it’s a good idea to create something known as a testamentary will. This type of will is 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 advanced healthcare directive and is an estate planning tool allowing people to outline their wishes for end-of-life care. A living will comes into play if you become terminally ill, incapacitated, require life support, or are otherwise unable to communicate end-of-life decisions regarding your medical care.
It’s important to note that living wills no longer have power once a person dies. That said, a living will is an invaluable document to include when creating an estate plan. It ultimately provides guidance to family members and healthcare professionals in situations where the individual cannot express their wishes.
What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will or Living Will?
A will and a living will are essential documents to your estate plan. If you don’t have either of these documents in place, this can lead to complications later. If you pass away without a will, any wishes that you may have won’t be carried out. Additionally, your heirs will likely spend additional time, money, and energy during the probate process while settling your affairs once you’re gone.
If you don’t have a living will or healthcare proxy 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 not properly resolved.
Benefits of a Lawyer When Creating a Will and Living Will
A will and a living will are important documents with two different functions. However, both documents require you to provide full details regarding your wishes. For many people, hiring a lawyer to help navigate the small details is often the best option.
Ensure Proper Language Is Used and Laws Are Followed
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 legal documents.
Efficient Revisions of Your Documents
Another benefit of hiring an attorney is that they will update your will or living will as necessary. If 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.
Allowing a lawyer to create your will or living will also avoid unnecessary mistakes. Unfortunately, when individuals create these documents independently, it’s common to overlook state statutes and other requirements. However, an experienced lawyer will know everything needed to create an accurate and valid will or living will to provide you with the utmost protection.
Enlist the Help of an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you’re preparing to make a will, a living will, or both, hiring an experienced Ventura estate planning lawyer is the best route. A lawyer can help you identify the most important decisions to include in your documents, ensure that your will or living will meet all requirements, and ultimately provide peace of mind.
Contact us today at Hermance Law, and we’ll ensure these vital documents are drafted properly and legally binding so you can rest easy.