What’s The Difference Between a Living Will and A Will in Virginia?

living will

Multiple estate planning strategies and documents can be used to outline your wishes and to protect your interests. One common question asked of Virginia Beach area estate planning attorneys is, what is the difference between a living will and a will?

A living will is a form of an advanced medical directive that does not pass on assets to future generations, but instead outlines your wishes and desires for healthcare in the future.


What is a Living Will, and What Role Does it Serve?


The purpose of a living will is to document your desires and wishes if you ever become unable to express them. This broad document can cover things such as medications, procedures and medical treatments you do or do not want to receive, and you can also use it to name an agent to carry out those wishes related to your health care.


What is a Will, and What Role Does it Serve?


A will, however, is your last will and testament in which you name things such as a guardian for your minor children, an executor who you want to oversee the distribution of your estate and your wishes about how your assets are passed on to your loved ones.


These are two different documents, but they can work together in your Virginia estate to clearly explain your primary wishes and to decrease the possibility of confusion or probate disputes in the future. If you need more help determining the right course of action with your plan, it’s best to retain outside help. Work with a Virginia Beach area estate planning lawyer to establish your plan today.

Why You Need Estate Planning Now If You Have Health Issues

Every person of any age and health status can benefit from an estate plan to ensure that your wishes are carried out, but a person with significant health issues must prioritize their end-of-life planning. You will need a will that determines who receives your assets as well as appoint someone to care for any minor children. But your estate plan should also include a living will.

A living will is an estate planning document that explains the health care you do and do not want if you become unable to communicate these desires yourself. If you are incapacitated, such as being in a coma, you want to ensure that your loved ones are able to make these important decisions in line with your wishes. In addition to a living will, create a power of attorney that is assigned to trusted individuals for your finances and for your health care.

These are people you trust to carry out your wishes and to handle your affairs if something happens to you. These documents are important for everyone but are vital for someone with health issues.

A Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer can help you think through the main issues in your living will and draft one for you. Feel confident about your future care decisions when you work with a lawyer who has years of experience helping other Virginia Beach residents document their wishes.

To learn more about establishing a plan based on your current health and possible future health problems, you need to work with a qualified attorney who has a strong track record in issues, such as elder law planning and estate planning. Schedule a consultation today to learn more.


When Should I Update My Living Will?

Like all estate planning documents, there are certain circumstances that call for you to update your living will. Making sure that your estate planning materials are regularly updated will ensure that if something happens to you that your plan will be followed. Update your living will in the following circumstances:

  • There has been a recent change in health care laws.
  • There have been new changes in medical technology that you do or do not want considered as part of your future care.
  • There are new changes or limits on medical care to meet your ability to pay.
  • You are responding to the death of a significant other or loved one.
  • You have recently moved to a new state.
  • There have been changes in your health, such as a terminal diagnosis, pregnancy, hospitalization or need for surgery.
  • You need to designate a different person to make health care decisions for you.
  • You have changes in your beliefs and desires regarding end of life care.

In all of these circumstances, working with the right estate planning attorney is strongly recommended to ensure that you have considered all of the most important issues and set yourself up for the future. Do not hesitate to communicate with an experienced and qualified lawyer as soon as you can to protect your interests in full with a living will.

Our Virginia Beach, VA estate planning lawyer is familiar with all aspects of planning ahead for your future with power of attorney documents. When you hire a lawyer, you can work on a personalized strategy designed to help you accomplish your primary goals.



The Risks of Skipping A Living Will

A will is one of the most important components of your estate plan. You can accomplish many estate planning goals by creating a will, but you may also need to supplement it with other documents. One such example is a living will.

You should always discuss your will, a living will, revocable living trusts and other estate planning tools directly with an estate planning lawyer to determine what is most appropriate for addressing your needs. Your will is set up to be executed after you pass away. It names things, such as a guardian for any minor children, and what you would like to happen to the assets that you own. However, this still leaves many questions to be answered about handling issues that come up while you’re still alive.

A living will is a document that can help to address this by giving your caregivers directions about your wishes in the event of an incapacitating event, and any end of life decisions that might require action without your input.

Your living will should be drafted with your specific wishes in mind, but like all other estate planning documents, should also follow state laws. This ensures that your document is treated as legally valid at the time of need.

If you have questions about the kinds of decisions that might need to be included in your living will, it’s a good idea to work directly with your physician or medical professional, and then take the information that you learn from that meeting to your estate planning lawyer. An estate planning lawyer in VA can help you understand any specific state level rules for executing this document effectively.