Living Will, Last Will and Testament: What's the Difference?

An Illinois will and testament is a legal document used by a testator (the person to whom the will belongs) to indicate how his estate should be distributed upon death. A last will and testament describes your last wishes for your property and your minor children. It's not effective until you die, and you can revoke or change it for as long as you live. The last will and testament you write will be one of your last legal documents to come into force. Everyone must keep in mind the differences between a last will and a living will.

Both can give you and your loved ones peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be fulfilled in the event of a last will, after your death, and with a living will, sooner. Practically, a last will can also make the probate process smoother. A person writes a will while he is alive and his instructions are only carried out once the person dies. Also known as a health care directive, this legal document allows a person (while alive and mentally capable) to empower another person to make decisions about their health care if the person signing the living will becomes incapacitated. While a last will directs the distribution of property after a person's death, a living will gives instructions on the medical care of someone who is still alive but cannot communicate their wishes on their own.

A living will goes into effect when you are still alive and instructs health care providers to treat you while you are alive. If you are seriously injured in a car accident, for example, emergency medical technicians will do everything they can to revive you and keep you alive, even if your living will says you don't want life support. A last will and testament does not take effect until after the person dies, but a living will comes into play while the person is still alive but incapacitated. It is important to understand the differences between these two documents so that you can make sure that your wishes are carried out in the event of an emergency. Having both a last will and testament and a living will is essential for ensuring that your wishes are respected in both life and death. A last will allows you to designate who should receive your assets after death, while a living will allows you to specify what kind of medical care you would like to receive if you become incapacitated.

By understanding the differences between these two documents, you can ensure that your wishes are respected in both life and death.