A will explains two main things: (1) who will be guardian of your dependents / pets and (2) how to distribute your property.
A living will explains what kind of medical care you want if you can’t communicate your wishes.
Both a will and a living will are legal documents.
Here are a few examples (not exhaustive) of common wishes and which document should be used for each:
|I want to…||Will||Living Will|
|Name a guardian for my kids||✅||❌|
|Name a guardian for my pets||✅||❌|
|Explain how I want my property distributed||✅||❌|
|Explain my desire to donate my organs, brain or body||❌||✅|
|Explain whether I want to be buried or cremated||✅||❌|
|Explain whether I want to stay on life support||❌||✅|
|Explain my preferences for pain management if I can’t||❌||✅|
Getting Your Affairs in Order Checklist: Documents to Prepare for the Future (National Institute on Aging)
Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions (Mayo Clinic)