Living Will vs. Last Will Testament: Learning The Differences

How Could A Living Will & Last Will Help You Plan Your Estate?

Although a living will and a last will and testament both share the word “will,” they are two very different documents. Both can be extremely beneficial in various circumstances and are considered to be crucial to the estate planning process because they address different areas of estate planning in Arizona. Ask your Mesa estate planning lawyer to help you decide whether one or both of these important documents would be beneficial for you.

Writing a will in Arizona

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a legally binding document that makes preparations for potential medical situations, an illness, or other significant life changes that might prevent you from being unable to communicate your wishes or make decisions for yourself.

If a devastating health condition or accident happens, such as being in a vegetative state on life support or you become mentally incapacitated after a traumatic brain injury, a living will ensure that your wishes for your medical care will be known and honored. In your living will, you have the opportunity to clearly state what type of medical treatments and care you would or would not like to receive in anticipated medical situations.

Additionally, a living will be drafted with your Gilbert estate planning attorney and will offer other benefits after you pass away. You can specify whether you would or would not like to donate your organs and which ones, whether you want to have an autopsy done, and what you would like to happen to your remains. Directives regarding burial and cremation can be outlined in detail.

If you decide that creating a living will is the right choice for you, you’ll also want to pair it with another important estate planning document, the healthcare power of attorney form. This complimentary document names someone you trust and gives them legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. Creating both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney is a crucial part of the preparation for the unexpected. Although these can be difficult issues to consider, you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be respected and that your family will face less stress in a difficult time.

What Is a Last Will & Testament?

In casual language, a last will and testament are commonly simplified to “a will.” When people discuss the benefits of having a will as part of estate planning, they are usually referring to a last will and testament rather than a living will.

A last will and testament are separate from a living will that carries out medical instructions. Instead, a last will and testament is a legally binding document drafted by your Tempe estate planning law firm that details how your estate, assets, and debts will be managed and distributed after you pass away. The focus of this estate planning document is who will inherit and receive your home and other assets you leave behind. It is typically complemented by a power of attorney, which gives a specified person or persons legal authority to sell your real estate, manage your bank accounts, and other similar actions, if applicable. Your last will and testament will also address posthumous decisions that are not addressed by the medical directives in a living will.

One of the most important reasons to write a last will and testament is so that your family or friends can manage your assets after your death. If someone dies without a will and without surviving children, or with a homemade will that was not legally binding, called “intestate,” their assets will be sent to probate court in Arizona. This lengthy process will determine who receives your assets or the proceeds from your assets according to Arizona’s intestacy laws, not according to your wishes. If your Arizona estate planning lawyer has drafted a legal last will and testament, your assets will be distributed according to your wishes in your estate planning documents. A last will and testament ensure that the probate court honors and follows your wishes for your remaining assets.

Both a living will and a last will and testament are crucial estate planning documents to create sooner rather than later. Although they are different, both documents complement each other and work together to ensure that your wishes are respected after your death.

Draft Legally Binding Estate Planning Documents With Arizona’s Top Rated Estate Planning Lawyers

If you are thinking about drafting a living will, a last will and testament, power of attorney directives, a living trust, or other estate planning documents, consult with the experienced attorneys at My AZ Lawyers. We specialize in assisting individuals through the complexities and challenges of estate planning with compassion, respect, and a thorough understanding of Arizona state law. Our lawyers can help you determine which documents are necessary for your situation and provide affordable, solid legal solutions. Contact our office today to gain the peace of mind that comes with careful estate planning!


Contact Professional Family Attorneys In Arizona

Arizona Offices:

Mesa Location:
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Office: (480) 448-9800

Phoenix Location:
343 West Roosevelt, Suite #100
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Office: (602) 609-7000

Glendale Location:
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: (602) 509-0955

Tucson Location:
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701

Office: (520) 441-1450

Avondale Location:
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392

Office: (623) 469-6603

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