Hey everyone! So last week a former student/current rocking interpreter asked me over Facebook how to interpret the term “Living Will.” This of course set off a firestorm of opinions on leaving it to the lawyer/doctor/other person to explain what is means or the Deaf client to ask what it means.
Totally not getting into that discussion.
But, I will say it never hurts to know what it means yourself, because you are going to have to interpret it (no matter who digs for the deeper meaning), and if you are relying on an attorney to say anything that anyone but another attorney would understand you have not met many of us! We suck at explaining… bad… way bad!
Anyway, the real problem with the term “Living Will” is that if four people say it there will be seven different meanings intended–“Living Will” is the Aloha of testamentary terminology, people use it to mean everything.
So lets go through what we are talking about: What happens to my stuff after I die and myself while I die.
There are two kinds, Intervivos and Testamentary. Intervivos holds your stuff while you are alive and is usually revocable (you can change it or get rid of it while you are alive) but becomes irrevocable when you die… cuz you’re dead. Testamentary Trust are set up by another instrument, like a Will, and only are declared after you die.
Both of them hold your stuff as if they were legally a person. Trusts are usually set up with specific rules like “this is to be used for my kids education” and so living or dead that is what the trust can be used for. Most are time limited so if anything happens to you the Trust will do its thing until the kids are 22 or 23-years-old (I never advise a client to make the Trust distribute is corpus to a 21-year-old because I knew me when I was 21-years-old). Lots of people want Intervivos Trusts, fewer people need them. The tax advantages only kick in north of 5 million dollars. They are good for multiple marriages and kids from each marriage. Testamentary Trust established by a Will are good for people with young kids.
Like a “Last Will and Testament” Will. This is good for making sure all your stuff gets to the people who you want it to go to when you die. These days most stuff passes through an “extra-testamentary” document–as a beneficiary of an insurance policy or joint accounts or joint tenancy in the ownership of a house. A Will catches everything else so there is no dispute as to who gets the stuff.
A Living Will.
When people say Living Will they could mean any number of Advanced Directives (directions you give before something happens). An ACTUAL Living Will gives instructions of what you want done or not done medically if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to give competent instructions as to your wishes.
A Medical Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy (sometimes called a Living Will) designates a person to relay your wishes is for some reason you cannot do it yourself. Not their wishes for you but having told them what you want they accept the responsibility to relay your wishes.
Then there is a DNR-Do Not Resuscitate. Just like it sounds, if certain conditions are present just let me go.
There you go! and remember Uncle Dale’s Rule may be informative but it is not a substitute for legal advice. If you want information please talk to a lawyer in your area.