A will, often referred to as a Last Will and Testament, is a pretty important document, as explained elsewhere on this site. But it only passes assets to your heirs AFTER your creditors have been paid and often, the expenses of a last illness are so massive that all of the estate goes for medical expenses.
This is why a living will, or, more property, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, is often the more important document. Who cares who takes under a will if there is nothing left to take after expenses of last illness are paid? And the sad part about it is that those expenses often are incurred to preserve a life, the quality of which is such that the patient would far prefer to be dead. He didn’t work hard all his life to leave his estate to Renown, St. Mary’s or some stranger doctor.
And this isn’t intended to criticize doctors or hospitals, for their job is to save lives and they do a darn good job of it. BUT, If the quality of your life is so bad, if you are so miserable, wouldn’t you at least consider asking the doctor to pull the plug? Especially if the chances of recovering to the point of enjoying life again were very remote. If you could talk to your doctor, intelligently . . . if the doctor knew you were in your right mind, he or she would, no doubt, honor your reasonable DNR wishes. But what if you are in a coma? What if Alzheimers has taken control of your mind? In those circumstances, the doctor needs a bit of help and, though you might not be able to help her then, you can help her NOW, while you are not in a coma and before Alzheimers takes over. You do this by executing a living will. A living will is sort of a schizophrenic document…it does two things: First it tells your doctor what your wishes are if you are in a terrible way with no prospect of recovery. Secondly, it authorize a trusted person to tell the doctor what you want done in regards to DNR matters.
If, on the other hand, there is some possibility that some miracle cure might show up and you are the type of person who wants your life prolonged for as long as possible, your living will can do that too.
Since you might be the only one who knows where your living will is, and since that won’t help much if you are not able to speak when the living will is needed, Nevada’s secretary of state has kindly agreed to store your living will for you. Just get on to her web site and follow the directions to the “Living Will Drop-Box.”
So, is your will more important than your living will? I don’t know. You tell me. Probably depends on the circumstances. But as we see it, you need them both.