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What's the Difference Between a Living & Last Will? October 10, 2019

Central Business District, Rochester
What's the Difference Between a Living & Last Will?, Rochester, New York

People choose estate planning to put their affairs in order and make lasting decisions. For example, living and last wills allow you to plan who will inherit your assets and make choices regarding your medical care when you’re unable to. However, these documents are not the same. To help you develop a comprehensive estate plan, here is more information about them. 

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that can go into effect while the creator is still alive. In this document, you state your wishes regarding end-of-life care should you ever become incapacitated. You may include preferences regarding intravenous food and water administration, palliative care, and life-prolonging procedures like blood transfusions and dialysis.

wills and trustsTo further address all potential scenarios, you may create a durable power of attorney to accompany your living will. This will assign someone you trust with the role of “health care proxy,” which means they can make medical decisions on your behalf

What Is a Last Will?

When people refer to a “will” in regard to estate planning, they're usually discussing a last will or testament. Unlike a living will, this document doesn’t go into effect until after you die. This is because none of its terms will be relevant until you’re no longer around. 

In a last will, you can state funeral and burial preferences, name the executor of your estate, establish guardianship for any minor children, bequeath assets to your loved ones, and explain how any remaining debts should be paid. 

Living and last wills are two documents that every estate plan should include. They are not mutually exclusive, since they address different topics.


To learn more about the various wills and trusts you may want to include in your estate plan, turn to attorney Louis C. Noto. Based in Rochester, NY, and serving clients in the surrounding counties, this lawyer is highly knowledgeable in all aspects of estate planning and has nearly five decades of experience. Visit his website to view his areas of expertise, then call (585) 232-1815 to schedule a consultation.

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