Two common estate planning options are living wills and living trusts. Despite the similar names, a living trust vs living will serve completely different purposes. A living will covers your desired medical treatment if you become incapacitated, while a living trust covers ownership of your assets to help you manage your affairs while you are alive and pass them to the desired parties when you pass away.
What Is A Living Will?
A living will is a type of advance directive, which is a legal document outlining your medical care preferences in the event that you are unable to make your decisions yourself. This can guide doctors and other caregivers on your desired course of action if you are in a coma, seriously injured, terminally ill or in the later stages of dementia.
Planning ahead allows you to ensure you will get the medical care you want and avoid any unnecessary suffering. It also takes the burden of deciding how to proceed off of your caregivers.
Although this is something many people believe is reserved for older people, it is recommended that people of all ages establish a living will in case they have an accident or otherwise become incapacitated.
What To Include In A Living Will
A living will should include all of the interventions you would be willing to receive in a medical emergency as well as those you would like to avoid. It will only be used if you are alive but unable to communicate. As soon as you are able to communicate on your own, the living will has no authority.
Medical Treatments You Would And Would Not Want To Be Used To Keep You Alive
A living will should address medical treatments such as:
- Mechanical ventilation, which takes over your breathing if you cannot breathe on your own. A living will could state if, when and for how long you are willing to be placed on a mechanical ventilator.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): CPR is used to restart the heart if it stops beating. A living will can specify if and when you would want CPR to be administered; it can also address if you would like to be resuscitated with a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart.Tube feeding: Tube feeding delivers nutrients and fluids to the body intravenously or via a tube in the stomach. Your living will can state if, when and for how long you would want to be nourished in this way.
Another topic that may be addressed in a living will is comfort care, or palliative care. These are interventions used to help you remain comfortable and reduce pain. This might include being given pain medication and being allowed to die at home. It can also specify if you want to avoid invasive treatments or tests.
Organ And Tissue Donations
A living will can specify your wishes regarding organ and tissue donation. If you do want to donate your organs for transplantation, you will be placed on life-sustaining treatment until the procedure has been carried out. It is important to state in your living will that you understand why this temporary intervention is necessary in order to avoid any confusion.
You can also indicate whether you would like to donate your body for scientific study. You can get in touch with your local university, donation program or medical school to register for a planned research donation.
What Is A Living Trust?
A living trust is similar in concept to a will in the sense that it outlines who will receive your property, but a living trust manages your estate while you are still alive. It is a legal document that you create during your lifetime in which a designated person known as a trustee will be given the responsibility of managing your assets.
What Can You Do With A Living Trust?
A living trust can be thought of as being a fund that owns your belongings while you are still alive and outlines how they should be distributed once you die. A living trust can contain bank accounts, vehicles, jewelry, fine art, real estate, intellectual property, mining rights and other assets.
A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust is far more common and is the type most people are referring to when discussing living trusts. It can be revoked or changed by the grantor at any time they choose.
Some people prefer a living trust over a will because it can save time and money in the probate process. It also protects privacy; while a will is a public document that anyone can view via county records, a living trust is completely confidential.
Name Beneficiaries For Property
A living trust names the beneficiaries for your property. While a will simply describes the property and lists who should receive it, a living trust has the property transferred into the trust.
Revise Your Document
A revocable living trust can be revised as your circumstances or desires change. Therefore, the decisions made when you initially set it up are not permanent.
Requires A Notary Public
Unlike a will, a living trust must be signed and stamped by a notary.
Talk With Harbor Light Hospice About Living Trust Vs Living Will
If you are interested in finding out more about how a living trust vs living will can help ensure your wishes are carried out, get in touch with the team at Harbor Light Hospice for guidance.