Site icon The Aging Authority

A Will or Living Will?

A will or living will? The legal terms and documents that are important to have can be very confusing. For both yourself, or, when faced with being a caregiver for an aging loved one.

It is always best to plan ahead. This includes the legal aspects. We recommend this Checklist for my Family to help you put a plan in place.Keep reading for the difference between a will and living will and reasons why you need both!

a will or living will

(Friends: The links in this post are affiliate links. The Aging Authority will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through the links.)

A Will or Living Will- What’s the Difference?

  1. Will- Most people are at least familiar with the term Will. A will outlines an individual’s wishes in regards his or her assets after he or she passes away, such as gifting to family. A will is crucial because it can help avoid unnecessary confusion and family strife. 
  2. Living Will- Equally as important is a Living Will, otherwise known as Advanced Directive. This is a legal document which covers the individual’s wishes in regards to medical care and treatment. Some people will also opt to include a Do Not Resuscitate Order which indicates preference to not receive life saving measures. 

What legal documents do you need as a caregiver?

In order to step in as an effective caregiver you will need to be an advocate for your loved one. Your loved one will need to have the proper documents in place to empower you to do so. Once the documents are finalized, they should be kept in an easily accessible but secure place. A good option is a lock box in the home. A water/fire proof document organizer is also a good solution.

In addition to the Will and Living will, another important document is a Durable Power of Attorney. It is a good idea to have both a durable medical and financial power of attorney. These documents allow the individual to appoint decision makers for when they are unable to make decisions for themselves.

I recommend that people appoint two different decision makers, one for financial and one for medical if possible. Doing so accomplishes a couple of important goals. It keeps the entire burden from being placed on one person which can be a lot to bear. It also removes any conflict of interest in regards to decision making. 

Should I use an Attorney?

None of these have to be long and complex documents. They should be as simple as possible, avoiding legal jargon and ensuring they are easy to be understood. However even very simple documents should be reviewed by an attorney. Something you create on your own may not meet legal requirements.. An attorney can help with that. 

Once the documents are finalized, they should be reviewed at least every five years. Additionally, they should be kept in an easily accessible but secure place such as a lock box in the home. A water/fire proof document organizer is also a good solution. Always give copies of the medical documents to your loved one’s primary care physician and other providers.

Capacity is a big factor in putting together these documents, which is why it is so important to plan ahead. If your loved one becomes incapacitated or diagnosed with a cognitive impairment, it will be much harder if not impossible to put the necessary documents in place to give you the legal authority you need to help them. The court may get involved to appoint a conservator or guardian, a lengthy and strenuous process.  

Other Resources…

Starting the conversation can be hard.. our blog on Starting the Conversation can help.. Read More..

Financial Planning is also crucial.. read our blog on planning ahead for long term care.. Read More

Exit mobile version