Law Office of Robert L. Firth
Is a Living Trust the Same as A Living Will?
No. A living trust is for financial affairs. A living will is for medical affairs; it lets others know how you feel about life support in case of terminal illness. However, a living will is limited because it deals only with very specific terminal situations and in most cases, it is not legally enforceable. A more powerful document is an Advance Directive for Health Care, or health care proxy as it is called in some states. This lets you choose the person you want to make any medical decisions for you including life support if you are unable to make them yourself. It’s legally valid and enforceable and it keeps the courts from interfering in these private decisions. Everybody needs an Advanced Directive for Health Care. You need a Living Trust if any of the following apply to you: (1) you own real property worth more than $100,000, (2) you own property in more than one state, (3) you have children you care about, (4) you want to avoid probate, (5) you want to keep the courts out of your life should you become incapacitated, (6) you want to minimize your estate taxes. A properly drafted estate plan will include both A Living trust as well as an Advanced Directive for Health Care (living will), along with a “Pour Over” Will, and miscellaneous powers of attorney and documents for funding your living trust. It sounds complicated, but it is not. See an experienced estate planning attorney for additional information.