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Are a will and a living will the same thing?

Wills and living wills are two totally different documents. The most notable difference is that a will takes effect after you have passed while a living will has legal power while you are alive.

In most cases, if not all, it is beneficial for people to have both types of documents rather than just one or the other. Here is a look at these two types of wills.

Living will

A living will is sometimes called an advance  healthcare directive. It is a way for you to communicate your medical intentions while you are able to do so. After all, if you are in a coma or vegetative state, you cannot communicate. Living wills help avoid expensive and prolonged treatments you would rather not undergo, or if you want them, living wills help make sure medical personnel give their all in accordance with the law and your wishes. Living wills typically cover areas such as intravenous feeding and life support, among others.


A will is a way for you to designate what happens to your property and assets after you die. Many people combine wills with trusts for maximum effect.

Similarities between the two

A will and living will are similar in that to be upheld legally, you must follow certain procedures. For example, New Jersey requires that you be at least 18 and mentally capable of making a will. It must be in writing and signed by you and witnessed by at least two people who are at least 18. Typewritten wills are preferable to holographic or handwritten wills, and probating a handwritten will can be costly and time-consuming. As for living wills, the rules associated with them in New Jersey are not as strict as they are with wills. Still, you should use standardized forms and the like instead of writing your own and risk missing important parts. 

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