Friday, March 12, 2010

Living Wills; Last Wills; DNR's: What's the Difference and How do They Work?

I have been asked many times recently to describe the differences between Wills; Living Wills and DNR's. That's a great question and the subject of this article.

Let's start by defining our terms and explaining what each of those actually is.

Last Wills: This is a dispositive document I wrote about in the 8 Steps to Getting Yourself in Order. A Last Will, or Will for our purposes, is a legal document which handles the disposition and distribution of your property AFTER your death. The Will can also create trusts for your spouse, children; appoint guardians for children and many other things. The key is that a Will has no force or validity during your life.

Living Wills: A Living Will addresses your wishes about life support measures and artificial feeding tubes at the end of life if you are in a coma. It is completely different from a Last Will because a Living Will is in force during your life and has no validity after death. It is an important document to express your wishes about how you want to be treated if you are in this condition. If you sign a Living Will, it becomes mandatory. Compare granting authority to a trusted person to make decisions for you with a Health Care Durable Power of Attorney.

DNR or Do Not Resuscitate Statement: A DNR expresses your instructions about not being resuscitated under certain circumstances. It is generally useful for elderly clients, since most of us wish to live if possible, even if measures are necessary to restart our hearts if we stop breathing. People in accidents; swimming incidents and even chest injury situations typically wish to be resuscitated unless they are elderly. Even some older clients wish this to be true. Before signing a DNR, carefully think through your desires and goals.

All three of these planning tools are important, but involve completely different situations and consequences. Always discuss each of these with your estate planning attorney before signing such documents.

I hope this is helpful and if you have further questions, feel free to give me a call at: 303-730-7100. Thank you for your interest and support.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. A good quick guide for your readers regarding this confusing and critical area of estate and financial planning.


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