Understanding the Difference Between a Will and a Living Will in Connecticut

In Connecticut, there are distinct legal documents that serve different purposes when it comes to estate planning and healthcare decisions. These documents often include a will, and a living will. While both play significant roles in outlining an individual’s wishes, they serve different functions and address different aspects of a person’s life. Let’s delve into the differences between a will and a living will in Connecticut.

A will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets and property will be distributed after their death. It allows an individual, referred to as the testator, to designate beneficiaries who will receive specific items, such as money, real estate, or personal belongings. The will can also appoint an executor, the person responsible for managing the estate and ensuring the testator’s wishes are carried out. Additionally, a will can name a guardian for minor children and include instructions for funeral arrangements. It is important to note that a will only takes effect upon the testator’s death.

On the other hand, a living will, also known in Connecticut as an Advance Directive, focuses on medical decisions rather than asset distribution. A living will allows an individual to express their healthcare preferences in case they become unable to communicate or make decisions due to incapacitation. It typically addresses end-of-life situations and provides instructions regarding life-sustaining treatments, such as resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and artificial nutrition. The living will ensures that an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatment are respected when they cannot express them directly.

In Connecticut, both wills and living wills are legally recognized and regulated by specific statutes. For a will to be valid, it must be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by two competent individuals who also sign the document. It is advisable to consult an attorney experienced in estate planning to ensure compliance with all legal formalities.

To create a valid living will in Connecticut, an individual must express their wishes in writing and sign the document in the presence of two witnesses who also sign it. The witnesses must not be the individual’s spouse, blood relatives, or anyone entitled to inherit any portion of the individual’s estate. It is important to review and update the living will periodically to ensure it reflects the individual’s current healthcare preferences.

While a will and a living will address different aspects of an individual’s life, they can complement each other in comprehensive estate planning. By having both documents, an individual can ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes after their death, and their healthcare preferences are respected during life-threatening medical situations. It is crucial to seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in estate planning to create these documents accurately and effectively.

A will and a living will serve distinct purposes in Connecticut. A will determines the distribution of assets, while a living will expresses an individual’s healthcare preferences in case of incapacitation. Understanding the differences between these legal documents can help individuals navigate the complexities of estate planning and ensure their wishes are carried out both during and after their lifetime.

Do you have questions?

Count on your experienced team at Ericson, Scalise & Mangan, PC to provide you with sound guidance for your Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Probate, Trust & Estate Administration, and other legal needs. For assistance, contact us today at (860) 229-0369, or email us at info@esmlaw.com.

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