No one likes to imagine a time when they can no longer make decisions about their healthcare. The end-of-life conversation is normal, but it’s also a difficult talk for many people to have. That’s why there are tools like advanced directives and living wills to help make this process easier for everyone. But what’s the difference between these two documents?

Both advance directives and living wills are tools people can use to protect themselves in the event of serious illness. These documents can guide for family members and loved ones when difficult medical and end-of-life decisions arise.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can use an advanced directive or a living will to codify and preserve your wishes in the case of a major medical event.

Understand the Difference Between an Advance Directive and Living Will

Both advance directives and living wills are ways for people to protect themselves and their wishes when they become seriously ill or incapacitated. However, there are a few differences between the two that you should understand.

What Is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical care in case you are unable to speak for yourself. Advance directives can name people you’d like to be in charge of making medical decisions for you and what life-saving efforts you would like taken (or not taken) on your behalf. You can also include “do not resuscitate” (DNR) orders in your advance directive as well as instructions for organ donation and more.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is actually a type of advance directive. While advance directives can be used in any emergency medical situation, living wills typically apply to situations that involve end-of-life care.

A living will can specify whether you want procedures that would prolong your life, like being put on a ventilator or feeding tube. The document can also outline any religious ceremonies or observations you would like carried out.

Why Implement an Advanced Directive or Living Will?

The main purpose of both an advance directive and a living will is to clarify your final wishes for medical care when you can’t speak for yourself. However, these important documents can also name your healthcare proxy and offer specific guidelines for care in various situations.

With your advance directive or living will as a guide, your healthcare proxy can carry out your wishes without having to guess what you want. This situation provides a level of safety and gives your family peace of mind and freedom from the nagging question of whether they made the right choice or not.

And when you work with an experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer to create these essential end-of-life documents, you can trust that they’ll help you make the right, legally sound choice that is exactly what you need to protect your wishes and your family.

RELATED: Is a Living Trust Better Than a Will?

The Law Office of Kari Santana Can Help You Protect Your Wishes

For over a decade, the Law Office of Kari Santana has helped West Michigan residents like you create advance directives and living wills that preserve their final wishes and healthcare needs. If you are concerned about your wishes being carried out, have specific directives in mind, or just want to give your family a tool to put their minds at ease, don’t wait to contact Kari Santana. We can meet with you, learn about your situation, and help you craft a personalized legal solution that gives you confidence.

To get started, call our Grand Rapids office at (616) 717-5759 or fill out the quick and easy consultation form on this page. We look forward to hearing from you!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.