Purpose of a Living Will

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A living will, or advance directive, gives a named person the ability to 'pull the plug' in some medical instances. Learn the purpose of a living will from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

What's the purpose of a living will? Well, let's start off and make sure we clarify our terms, a little bit here. A lot of people confuse the term living will, with living trust. Pretty common, very common. A living trust is something that allows somebody to manage your assets, if you're incapacitated. It allows you perhaps, to avoid probate, when you die.It is the, almost the polar opposite of a living will. Even though they sound almost alike, they're very different. A living will, is something we call in our office, the "Pull the Plug" document. A living will is sometimes called an Advance Directive. Sometimes it's called a Directive to Physician, and what a living will is, is it's a document that you sign, that you tell your family, kids, honey. If I end up in this situation, it's okay to pull the plug on me, and quite frankly, I want you to pull the plug on me. I'm ready to go. Living wills can come in different flavors. In our firm, we give our clients choices, on when they want the plug pulled, because I can't imagine a more personal decision, a more important decision, anybody is ever going to make, is to whether you live or die. The importance of having a living will, was brought forward by the Terri Schiavo case, in Florida, where we had this young woman, who was, I don't know what she was, terminally ill. She was in some sort of serious incapacity. Her husband thought it was time, to quote, pull the plug, and let her go. Her parents were one eighty. They said no, no, over our dead body, are you pulling the plug, on our daughter. I don't know how much money the Schiavo family spent, on that whole huge mess, but if Terri Schiavo had signed a living will, to tell everybody, this is when I want to go. If I'm here, I'm good to go. Please let me go. They wouldn't not have ended up in that situation. The family would not have been destroyed. The money wouldn't have been spent. She would have gone in peace. That's what you want. Get a living will.

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