What is he difference between the two is vast, and not knowing the difference can cost you and your loved ones tens of thousands of dollars.
A Will, also know as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document that gives directions on how and who to distribute your assets after you die. A Will allows you to decide what you would like to go to whom, when, and how. It takes effect only upon your death. Only a Will can also be used to nominate guardians for your minor children if both of their parents pass away. A Will also allows the testator (person making the Will) to appoint executor(s) who will oversee the administration of the estate.
Without a Will, Alabama State law will determine who inherits your assets and handles your estate. A Will, as well as a living trust, allows you to structure the asset distribution to help avoid estate taxes, protect your heirs and loved ones from creditors, and space out the distribution over time. A will can be changed, or revoked, any time prior to your death.
A Living Will, also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive, is a document with written instructions about future medical care should you become unable to make decisions (for example, unconscious or too ill to communicate). A Living Will informs the hospital or nursing home as to how much medical intervention you want at the end of your life, if you become unable to make decisions. A Living Will allows you to specify whether you would like to be kept alive by artificial means if there is no hope of recovery. You are also able to specify the level of care that you want to receive if you are in an accident or a coma. Your Living Will, also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive, also appoints a Healthcare Proxy. Your Healthcare Proxy is a person in which you delegate power to make decisions about your medical care in the event that you are unable to do so.
Both a Will and a Living Will are important pieces of any estate plan. It is important to understand that while a Living Will deals with healthcare decisions, a Will deals with distribution of property and the appointment of guardians and fiduciaries.
Looking for more good information about estate planning? Contact our office at (256) 519-9970 for a free consultation to learn more about the difference between these documents and prepare the proper estate plan for your individual needs.