Living wills and last wills and testaments, most commonly referred to as simply a will, are two very important parts of any complete estate plan. These two vital parts of your estate plan serve two very different purposes. While you can create these documents at any time, you should only do so after consulting with a qualified attorney who can advise you about all your options and make recommendations about what you should do in your particular situation.
Creating The Documents: Both a living will and a last will and testament have very specific requirements, though the specific requirements you have to meet differ depending on the state in which you live. To create a will, you must usually make it in writing. You also have to sign the document and probably get it signed by two witnesses. A living will must be in writing and signed, but you typically must have it either witnessed or notarized.
Making Changes: Making changes to your will requires you to meet the same standards you must meet when you created it. So, if you need to sign and have your will witnessed, you have to do the same to any amendments or changes, known as codicils. The requirements with a living will are similar in that you have to meet the living will creation requirements whenever you want to make changes. In most situations, it’s best to create an entirely new living will rather than add changes to the previous document. Also, you can also simply tell your doctor what your medical preferences are even if they contradict what you placed in your living will and your doctor must follow your instructions.
Timing: Living wills apply only when you are alive, while wills apply only after you die. As long as you are mentally capable of making choices and meet the legal requirements, you can change either document at any time without telling anyone else.