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The Difference Between a Living Will and a Living Trust.

     We are often asked the difference between a Living Will and a Living Trust. They are two different kinds of instruments intended for far differing situations. Specifically, a Living Will, frequently in Alabama referred to as an Advance Directive for Health Care in Alabama, is geared to apply to situations when the individual has lost the ability to make decisions regarding his or her medical treatment and whether he or she wants to continue it. The format used by this office has been adapted from that prepared by the legislature for use in this State and are thought to be a direct result of the Karen Ann Quinlan and Terri Schiavo cases in the late twenty-first century. For example, a cancer patient who has fallen into a vegetative state may need a living will to state that he or she doesn't want a spouse or any family member to extend his or her life when the chances of survival seems unfavorably slim. This document may also assign a family member (called a “Proxy”) to make critical decisions regarding the person's medical and physical therapy options. Whatever your preferences may be, we encourage our clients to make an Advance Directive for health Care, and we will facilitate that process in any reasonable way.

     A Living Trust is a far different creature, and serves as a substitute for a Last Will and Testament, but the maker of such an instrument will still need a Last Will to backstop the terms of the Living Trust. While the Living Trust has the ability to a portion of the individual's estate for the benefit of beneficiaries who don't have the capacity to manage it, it is often cumbersome in establishing and one must make most meaningful financial transactions during the rest of their lives in the name of the Living Trust. A well written Last Will, on the other hand, can offer the same protections for beneficiaries and does not become so intermingled with one’s day-to-day activities for years to come.