Question: I’ve heard of a Will, Last Will and Testament and Living Will. What’s the difference?
Answer: Good question. There are two different types of “Will” documents. The most common one that people think of is a Last Will and Testament (casually referred to as a Will). A Last Will and Testament serves a number of functions:
1. A person who has minor children (under the age of 18) can appoint a guardian for their children in their Last Will and Testament. In fact, a Last Will and Testament is the ONLY place you can appoint a guardian for minor children under Arizona law. A guardian is responsible for raising the children just like a parent would if something were to happen to the parent. This includes providing shelter, education, medical care and everything else a parent would do for his or her children.
2. A person can also appoint a conservator for their minor children in their Last Will and Testament. A conservator serves as the minor children’s “money manager” until the children turn 18. The conservator is responsible for managing the assets and property belonging to the minor children and dispensing those assets as necessary to the children’s guardian for their care and support. The conservator can be the same person as the guardian, but doesn’t have to be.
3. A person also names a personal representative in their Last Will and Testament. A personal representative, also known as an executor in some states, is responsible for administering the person’s estate after death. This includes opening a probate, gathering the assets belonging to the deceased, paying the deceased person’s creditors, filing his or her final tax return and distributing the deceased person’s assets to his or her heirs or distributees.
A Living Will serves different functions than a Last Will and Testament. A Living Will states what you want to happen if confronted with an end-of-life medical situation. It specifies the types of medical procedures you want if you are in a persistent vegetative state or suffering from a terminal condition from which there is no hope of recovery. This document is also known as a do not resuscitate document.
Abigail Neal can prepare a Last Will and Testament as a stand alone document or part of a comprehensive estate plan. We cannot stress enough the importance of preparing a Will to everyone, especially parents with minor children. The Powers & Neal law firm can also prepare a Living Will as a stand alone document along with a Health Care Power of Attorney (together, these two documents are called Health Care Directives). Alternatively, we can prepare a Living Will as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Learn more about our flat fee estate plans and feel free to contact our office at (480) 699-7992 with questions.