What is the difference between a Will and a Living Will?

Our MyWill service allows you to create a legal Last Will and Testament. Our MyLivingWill service allows you to create an "Advance Directive" and a "Healthcare Power of Attorney". They are two very different documents.
The Last Will and Testament does nothing until you die. It serves absolutely no purpose all the time you are alive. It allows you to name an Executor (the person who has responsibility to carry out your instructions and administer your "estate" after you have died). You can also name a guardian for your children. In addition, the Will allows you to describe the distribution of your assets. These assets include money, property and possessions. All of your assets together form your "estate". You can leave items to people or to organizations including making charitable "bequests". A Will can be written at any time in your life, and can be updated throughout your life as your circumstances change. Only the final version, your "Last" Will and Testament, is the one that is used after you have passed away.
Your Living Will is made up of two separate documents, that are both in effect when you are alive, but unable to speak for yourself. As soon as you pass away, your Living Will is no longer in effect. There is never a time when both your Last Will and Testament, and your Living Will are both active documents.
Your Living Will consists of your "Advance Directives". This document describes the type of medical care you wish to receive if you were ever in an irreversible terminal condition. It covers things like artificial respiration, tube feeding and "do not resuscitate" orders.
In addition, your Living Will allows you to name a "Healthcare proxy" or Healthcare Representative. In some Provinces this is called a Healthcare Power of Attorney, in other Provinces it is called a "Representation Agreement". The document names somebody who can make healthcare and medical decisions on your behalf if you were ever unable to speak for yourself.
Your Living Will may never be used. You may never find yourself in this situation. But if you are, it is an extremely important document and considered to be an important part of any complete estate plan.
The opinions expressed herein by "LegalWills.ca" are designed to provide educational information only and are not intended to, nor do they, offer legal advice.