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McClellan Legal LLC Estate Planning & Tax Assessment Blog

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Living Will: How is it Different from a Will?

Many people ask me to explain the difference between a Living Will and a Will. They are two completely different documents and address different issues. A Will is only implemented when you pass away and allows you to select the beneficiaries of your estate, the executor of your estate, and name guardians for any minor children. A Will also allows you to describe how and when your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance.

A Living Will is a health care document that allows you to retain control over whether you want your life to be prolonged using artificial means when you are incapacitated and have a terminal condition or are permanently unconscious. The primary reason people have a living will is to reduce the burden on their family members with deciding to pull the plug.

Any individual who is of sound mind and at least 18 years old may execute a Living Will. A Living Will is not a Health Care Power of Attorney. While both documents are health care documents, a Health Care Power of Attorney is a much broader document that authorizes someone you name as your agent to make health care decisions for you, if you are unable to speak for yourself or make your own decisions. For example, your health care agent will make decisions, such as, selecting a hospital, a physician, and determining the type of medical procedures to administer. Again, a Living Will is much more limited and only addresses your wishes during end of life situations. Some lawyers draft a combined Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney while other lawyers draft them as separate documents.

You should provide a copy of your Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney to your physician. It is also a good idea to provide copies of your heath care documents to your family members and your health care agent. You can also upload both of your health care documents into an online storage system (e.g., LegalVault or Docubank) that will provide medical personnel instant access to your health care documents in case of emergency. Most online storage companies will provide you with a wallet card that will inform medical personal how to download your health care documents.




McClellan Legal LLC is located in Kennett Square and serves clients throughout the areas of Avondale, Chadds Ford, Coatesville, Downingtown, Landenberg, Oxford, Phoenixville, Pottstown, West Chester, & West Grove. We also serve the following towns in Lancaster County: Lancaster, Lititz, Strasburg,Millersville, Ephrata, Leola, Manheim, New Holland, Willow Street, Quarryville, Elizabethtown and Mountville.



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