Estate planning can be confusing for many in Macon, especially given the many unfamiliar and seemingly contradictory terms used in the process.
For example, you may have been told to have a living will. You filled out a boiler-plate template found online, thinking it would be the document that lists which heirs get which assets when you pass away.
Later, you find out your living will does not accomplish this goal. You need a will. What are the differences between these two documents?
What is a will?
A will is the document that outlines which heirs are to receive which assets when you pass away.
When you die, your will is submitted to the probate court. The administrator of your estate—who is either chosen by you in your will or assigned by the court—will be in charge of making sure the terms of your will are followed after heirs are identified and notified and taxes and debts are paid.
Once these steps are completed, your assets are distributed to your heirs per the terms of your will.
What is a living will?
A living will is an entirely different beast. Living wills address your health care preferences should you be incapacitated or nearing the end of your life. Sometimes, a living will is referred to as an “advance directive” or a “medical health care directive.”
For example, a living will can state:
- Whether you want to be put on life support, such as a breathing machine or tube feeding
- Whether you want CPR performed
- Whether you want palliative care at the end of your life
- Whether you want to be an organ donor
Living wills take effect once you are unable to give express, informed consent about your medical care and personal preferences.
As you can see, wills and living wills achieve two very different objectives. But they are both essential components of a comprehensive estate plan.