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The Difference Between a Will, a Living Trust, and a Living Will

Final Wishes

A will, a living will, and a living trust are all equally important legal documents that almost every adult should have, and understand what each one does. Each document defines your will for the different areas of your estate, and will save your loved ones time and money when you are gone. By using all of these types of wills, you can put your mind and your loved ones at ease knowing that your estate will be taken care of. Discover what each will does and how it can help should you become ill or unable to care for your estate.

A will, a regular ordinary will dictates how your estate and property is to be distributed after your death, and it may also include your designation for guardians of your children, or self should you become incapable or pass away. A regular will must pass through probate court in most states before your estate can be passed on to your heirs. Probate court can take some time if there are disputes so make sure your wishes are clear and intent when writing your will.

Your will should also be prepared as a standard document by either yourself or a lawyer if your estate is complicated. A note saying “I leave my estate to my children” scrawled across a napkin will not hold up in probate court. It is important that your wishes are clearly dictated and easy to understand when the time comes. Most state laws do not require that you use a lawyer to prepare your will and you can do it yourself at home, on your own terms. Will kits come with all the standard forms and they are inexpensive at just $10-$50. Using a will kit is also very easy because all of the wordy stuff is already included so all you have to do is fill in the blanks.

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A living will defines your wish to be kept or not kept alive by artificial life support in the event of terminal illness or injury. A living will also gives you the ability to set limits on your hospital, medical, and funeral costs that can easily drain your estate and leave your loved ones with bills. As you age, take an honest look at yourself and then see your doctor often to determine what type of healthcare you may need in the future. The best thing you can do is be prepared, and prepare your loved ones for what the future may hold. If you express your wishes beforehand it will make the process much less stressful for those involved in your care and the execution of your final wishes.

A living trust is quite similar to a regular will but they are different at the core. Unlike a regular will that cannot be changed after it has been written, a living trust can be amended at any time. You can put property into your living will at any time before your death and afterward your estate goes directly to your heirs without passing first through probate court. If you ever change your mind about the definitions of your will you can change or revoke how your estate will be divided at any time by using a living will. A living will, will also save money and time later on because your loved ones won’t have to go through probate first.

So, the question is do you need all three of these documents? In a perfect world, no but we live on earth so yes, you need all of them. The documents are easy to draw up, or you could have a lawyer prepare the documents for a nominal fee. If your estate is especially complicated or large sums of money and property will be exchanged it is wise to consider hiring a qualified attorney to prepare your wills.