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Why you need to create a living will for your estate plan

The desire to get an unsavory task over with quickly can sometimes lead people to cut corners. That may not be the most pressing concern when scooping your cat litter, but when it comes to planning your estate or last will in Illinois, shortcuts can be a mistake that haunt your family for years to come.

You don't want to rush through and get things done as quickly as possible. Instead, you want the estate plan that you create to be as accurate and thorough as possible for your unique situation. In addition to the creation of a last will that outlines your asset allocation preferences, you should take steps to create a living will that protects you in the event of a severe illness or injury.

What's the difference between a living will and a last will?

Your last will and testament helps guide the division of your assets when you die. A living will, on the other hand, helps people make decisions on your behalf when you are alive but unable to make those decisions. A last will only takes effect at the time of your death, while a living will is only valid while you are alive.

A living will includes very different documents than a last will. You will likely include an advance medical directive that outlines your wishes for medical care if you can't voice those opinions yourself. You should also likely create a power of attorney document that authorizes someone you trust to make decisions about your medical care.

If you aren't married or if you worry about your spouse's ability to handle a situation in which you are injured or ill, you may also want to create a financial power of attorney. A financial power of attorney can authorize someone to pay bills on your behalf and ensure that your financial matters receive proper attention until you are able to handle them yourself.

Certain people need a living will more than others

Ideally, every person would take the time to create a comprehensive estate plan that handles both their assets and their wishes. Unfortunately, many people put off estate planning for far too long. Others may only do the very minimum of what is necessary.

For certain individuals, the creation of a living will is particularly important. If you have a medical condition that you know will progress, a living will is of critical importance. The same is true if your family has a history of progressive or degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

In the event that you feel worried about mental incapacitation as you age, you may also want to discuss a durable power of attorney as part of your living will. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you address all necessary concerns when creating an estate plan or living will.

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