AGING IN PLACE: Learning about the difference between a will and a living will

Estate planning is an important thing to do for your family, so that they know your wishes
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 6:19 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Attorney Sarah Bidwell is the owner of Wills on Wheels, a mobile law firm based in Martinsville. That means she can come to you if you have questions about estate planning. One big one is, what is the difference between a will and a living will?

“A will refers to a Last Will and Testament. In your will, you name an executor to oversee the distribution of your estate and outline how you want your estate distributed to your beneficiaries,” says Bidwell.

“A Living Will is a type of Advanced Medical Directive in which you set out your wishes for your healthcare in the future, should you ever be unable to express those wishes. It is a broad document and can cover the medical treatments, procedures, and medications you do or don’t want to receive. You can also name an agent in that document to carry out your wishes about your health care,” she adds.

Once you make that decision, there is a place where that information is stored.

“There is an online registry, the Virginia Advanced Health Care Directives Registry, which allows people to store their Advanced Health Care Directives and grant access to view those documents to their health care providers, friends, and family. It is best to meet with an attorney to complete these documents to ensure your wishes are outlined correctly. While these documents have different purposes, they each give you and your family peace of mind,” says Bidwell.

You can schedule a consultation with Bidwell by calling (434) 435-1390, or reach out to her on Facebook.