estate planning lawyersWhether you are 25 or 75, there is nothing stopping you from creating a last will or a living will. The issue? Not many people know the difference between the two. While estate planning lawyers and even divorce lawyers can explain the difference, many people are not inclined to ask until it is too late.

What about you? Do you know the difference between a living will and a last will and testament? If you answered no, you are in the right place. Here, we will delve into some of the major differences between living wills and last wills. You might even be able to impress your estate planning lawyers with this new information.

Perhaps the biggest difference between living wills and last wills is the timing in which each takes effect. Here is a quick look at how each will operates under this principle:

Living Will
As the name suggests, living wills do not take effect after a person has died. Rather, they take effect while a person is still living. So in the instance that you are incapacitated or catatonic, your living will would dictate what happens to your body. This is the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event that you are seriously injured or on life support.

Last Will
Unlike living wills, last wills do not take effect until after your death. After your death, a legal last will must be filed with a probate court. This is generally when your last wishes are read and then carried out.

The other major difference between living wills and last wills is the nomination of an agent, or someone who will carry out your wishes.

Living Will
An estimated 72% of American seniors have a living will, and for good reason. A living will allows you to nominate an individual to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you’re incapacitated. In the case of living wills, there is no court approval needed before a decision is made by your appointed agent.

Last Will
While a last will allows you to appoint an executor, they have no authority until after your death. Estate planning lawyers can help you select this individual, but probate court truly has the last word on who your executor is. Without permission from the court, the executor of a last will has no power over the distribution of assets.

Truthfully, these are only two of many differences between living wills and last wills. For more information on either one of these important legal documents, please don’t hesitate to contact our legal team.