Most people know what a will is: a legal document that specifies how – and to whom – you want your possessions distributed after you die. It’s also referred to as a last will and testament.
But what about a living will? A living will is NOT:
- A document created to give away your possessions while you are still alive
- A document that grows and changes automatically in accordance with your life changes
- A way to get your parents’ inheritance before they die
A living will IS a legal document that allows you to state, in writing, exactly how you want to be medically cared for if you should become incapacitated. This document takes effect while you are living if you are unable to speak for yourself due to injury, disease or other health conditions. The document can include verbiage to voice your stance on issues such as:
- Life support
- Tube feeding
You may wish to state that you do not want ANY type of life-sustaining measures taken. You may want only minimal actions delivered on your behalf. You can even state how long you want certain medical treatments administered.
Why Both Documents are Important
A will allows you to provide as much pre-planning as you can to protect your family after you pass away. The estate you have worked so hard to build can be passed to your surviving family members, charities or other organizations as you see fit.
Likewise, a living will allows you to provide pre-planning for your medical care so your family is not hit with the burden of making life-sustaining decisions for you. Often, family members do not agree about this sensitive topic: one part of the family may be completely against keeping a person alive by artificial means while another part of the family may want to prolong the person’s life indefinitely – regardless of medical costs, quality of life, etc. These types of religious and moral differences can cause a tremendous rift within families. While a living will may not completely hush outspoken loved ones, it will serve as a legal way to help keep the peace and take the burden off of the loved ones making the decision to remove you from life support.
Keep in mind that both living wills and wills are dynamic documents that should be reviewed and updated often to add/delete assets, alter beneficiaries, revise medical care choices, etc.
The Denver will lawyers at Brown & Crona, LLC are experts at estate planning in Colorado. They can help you create the right documents to make your life and death as easy as possible on you and your loved ones. Contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to arrange an appointment.