By the time you’re in your thirties, you really should have a living will drafted. This way, if something happens and you pass away, your family doesn’t have to worry about figuring out how your assets are to be divided. In Texas, if you die without a will, the Texas Probate Code will determine who gets your assets. This means that there’s no guarantee your wishes will be followed.
It’s also a good idea to draft a living will sooner rather than later. A living will basically spells out what kind of medical treatment you want should you get seriously ill or injured. It also confirms whether you are an organ donor. It’s never really too early to have a living will drafted.
When people visit their probate lawyer for the first time, they usually aren’t sure what the differences is between a will and a living will. Austin probate attorneys often have clients ask for one document when they really need the other. For example, they schedule an appointment to discuss a living will when what they really need is a will, outlining how they want their assets distributed when they die.
Here, we’ll discuss the basic differences between a will and a living will. This way, you can get started on your estate planning now.
What is a Will?
Most people know what a will is. This is a legal document that outlines exactly how you want your assets distributed. If someone doesn’t have a will, the law will dictate what happens to their property. The problem with this is that, sometimes, the law doesn’t have the same goals as you.
Usually, when someone dies, they want their spouse and children to get all of their assets. Sometimes, a will dictates that the spouse gets all of the decedent’s property. You want to make sure your spouse is well taken care of in the event something happens to you. Most people figure that their spouse will take care of their children no matter what.
Other people want to provide for their children separately in their will. For example, they may leave their house and life insurance to their spouse but split the rest of their assets up for their kids. Or, they create a trust to make sure their kids can go to college. The rest of their assets go to their wife or husband.
Basically, you can put anything you want in your will. If you want to leave all of your property to your cat, you can do that. Or, if you want to donate everything to your favorite charity, you can do that too. There are no real limits.
What is a Living Will?
Have you ever seen a movie or television show where someone is in a coma? The family is asked if they want to keep their loved one on a machine or “pull the plug.” As cold as this may sound, things like this happen in real life.
If you get in a serious accident or have a terminal illness, the time will come when your family has to decide when enough is enough. This kind of decision can be very difficult for your loved ones. Rather than make them decide what to do, you can draft something called a living will.
A living will is a legal document that outlines exactly what life saving (or life extending) measure you want done in the event that you get sick or seriously injured. The living will only becomes effective when it’s been determined that you are more than likely going to die. It is also limited to situations in which you can’t communicate your end-of-life wishes on your own.
A standard living will includes decisions regarding the following:
- Whether or not you want to be on a respirator
- If you want to be put on a feeding tube
- If you want all life sustaining treatment (such as an intubator, surgery, etc.)
Your living will also indicates whether or not you wish to be an organ donor.
You can change your living will at any time. Only the most recent (and valid) living will can be used in an end-of-life situation.
Contact an Experienced Probate Lawyer in Austin, Texas
If you want to make sure your family is protected upon your death, you really need a will and a living will. While you can draft these documents yourself, it’s best to have them drafted by an experienced Austin probate lawyer.
Call Eddington & Worley today and schedule your initial consultation. Let a skilled attorney answer any questions you may have.