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The Difference Between Wills

Wishes that pertain to distribution of a person’s estate after death are outlined in a Last Will and Testament, more commonly known as a will. A will specifies how the estate is administered and who should be the personal representative of the deceased. It should not summarize the final wishes for medical treatment since it’s not read until after a person’s death. For that, a living will must be made.

A living will specifies what you want your end of life treatment to be. For example, some seriously ill patients would rather die peacefully and not prolong their life with machines. Others want every medical intervention possible done to prolong their life. A lawyer can draft a living will or a person can download a form from the Internet.

The living will should be filed with the hospital closest to the patient or the hospital at which the patient is given care, given to the family doctor and kept with the patient’s important papers. If the patient is terminal and is at home, it is advisable to keep a copy in a place that it can be quickly reached in the event that emergency personnel, such as paramedics, are called. Without access to the living will, paramedics must provide life-sustaining treatment regardless of the patient’s wishes.

Along with the living will, it is prudent to prepare a durable power of attorney for healthcare. In this document, you give authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you not be able to make those decisions yourself. Make sure that you discuss the document with the person you have chosen as your proxy to be sure that the person wants the responsibility and understands your wishes.

While it is difficult to think about your mortality, having your affairs in order does make it much easier on your loved ones during such an emotional time. With a living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare in place, your preference for end of life care is followed. The Last Will and Testament addresses your estate distribution upon your death. Your family will have the comfort of knowing that your wishes were respected.

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