When you hear about estate planning, you may assume it is only for old and/or wealthy people. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Every adult should create an estate plan – especially a living will. A living will is a document you should have whether you are 18 or 80.

That said, a lot of people do not really know what a living will is. It may sound similar to an ordinary will, but it is a drastically different aspect of estate planning. Here is what you should know about this essential estate planning document.

Basics of a living will

A living will is a document that allows you to state your wishes about life support if you cannot communicate these desires yourself because of mental or physical incapacity, such as a coma or vegetative state. This is much different from a last will and testament, which is all about distributing your assets when you die. Instead, a living will concerns your medical care whenever you cannot speak for yourself. A living will is commonly known as a health care directive or advance directive. 

Reasons to get a living will

While it can be difficult to think about decisions regarding life support and death, it is vital to consider how you can benefit from a living will. Here are some circumstances that may compel you to create this document:

  • There are immediate medical concerns, such as a diagnosis of a terminal illness or the need for surgery.
  • You have strong opinions about life support.
  • You do not want other people making decisions unaligned with yours.

Plus, the very fact that life is unpredictable is enough of a reason to convince everyone to write a living will. 

Estate planning is not just about property and money. It is also about personal values regarding health care and medical procedures.