If you are confused about the differences between a living will and a living trust, it is understandable. Many people confuse these two estate planning documents, but they are quite different and are used for different things. At Elder Care Direction, we can help people to understand the different types of estate planning documents so that they can choose the ones that they need.
What is a living trust
A living trust is a document that is used to manage your assets and financial affairs. It is similar to a will because both types of documents provide instructions for how your assets should be handled and distributed after you die. However, a living trust also gives instructions for what should happen if you become incapacitated because of an illness or accident before you pass away. After you create a living will, you transfer assets to it by changing your beneficiary designations on your accounts and by changing the titles of your assets to the trust. This allows you and your family to remain out of court if you become incapacitated, and it allows your family members to avoid the probate process after you pass away.
what is a living will?
A living will is a document that you create concerning your medical affairs. It tells your doctor and other medical professionals which types of life support care that you would want to receive if you suffer a terminal injury or illness. A living will is helpful if you are unable to communicate what you want to your doctor. You can appoint a health care proxy in your living will. This is a trusted person who will tell medical personnel your end-of-life choices. Living wills are short. You can get a copy of a living will from your doctor, your hospital, or your attorney. However, since the issues involved can be difficult, it is a good idea to discuss your choices with an estate planning lawyer.
Limitations of living wills
Living wills only provide instructions about life support, artificial hydration, and artificial nutrition if you suffer a terminal illness or are in a permanent and irreversible vegetative state. Living wills are legally binding in some states. However, they are not legally binding in others.
Hospitals and doctors often do not want to stop life-sustaining treatment. This is because they are focused on saving lives. Many states do not allow water and food to be stopped. Since a living will is statutory, you generally are not allowed to personalize or alter the wording.
Because of these limitations, many people will also draft a durable health care power of attorney. This is a document that is both enforceable and legally binding. It also applies in broader medical situations. This document allows you to grant the legal authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself. You do not have to be in a vegetative state or have a terminal condition for your health care power of attorney to take effect.
Get help from Elder Care Direction
The professionals at Elder Care Direction are experienced in helping older adults and their family members to navigate the various issues that come with old age. To learn more about living wills, living trusts, and health care powers of attorney, fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.