What’s the difference between a will and a living will?

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…WillLiving 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)

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