Difference Between a Living Will and a Living Trust

Attorney Dan Krause explains the differences between a Living Will and a Living Trust. While both are estate planning documents, one has to do with health care and the other deals with assets:

  • A Living Will tells medical workers what your end-of-life wishes are (pull the plug)
  • A Living Trust controls distribution of your assets after you die

Learn more by watching our video.


Hi, this is Dan Krause from Krause Estate Planning & Elder Law Center where we do asset protection, estate planning, and elder throughout Wisconsin.

Today I want to talk a little bit about a common question that people often ask me. They talk about a Living Will when sometimes they mean a living trust. A Living Will and Living Trust sound very much similar and they're both estate planning documents, but they are very different.

So, a Living Trust has to do with your assets, and tells what happens to those assets when you pass away. It also tells what happens to those assets during your lifetime.

A Living Will on the other hand, doesn't have to do with your assets, but it has to do with your healthcare. Very specifically, it has to do with healthcare at the end of life. So a Living Will is typically what we call a "pull the plug" document. It's a document that tells doctors and healthcare professionals that at the end of life, you would not wish to be kept alive.

If you had a condition where it was pretty sure you'd never be able to recover and you can no longer talk or speak or interact with anyone, some people at that point would not want to be kept alive through artificial means. And that is what a Living Will does.

Once again, a Living Trust deals with assets, and Living Will deals with healthcare decisions at the end of life.

If you have any questions about this or any other topics concerning estate planning, elder law, or probate, please give us a call.

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