Do I Need A Will Or A Living Will?

People often misunderstand and misuse these terms. A "Will" and "Living Will" are two completely separate documents with completely separate purposes. However, both of these documents are very important as parts of a complete estate plan.

A Will is a document that will be used only after death. It is the document that lists how a person wants their assets to be divided and names the personal representative or executor who will be in charge of collecting assets, paying bills and making distributions.

A Living Will is a document that is used while a person is still alive. I call this the “pull the plug” document since it comes into effect essentially when there is “no hope” and a doctor needs direction on end-of-life care when the patient is no longer able to communicate his or her wishes.

The Living Will may also outline general wishes a patient has on certain treatments and will name a trusted individual who the physician can consult with on end-of-life care decisions. The person named in this document will have some difficult decisions to make. How well they handle these decisions will depend on how well you have prepared them.