Standard wills and living wills are both legal forms of communication which dictate your wishes should you become unable to speak for yourself. However, these documents are otherwise unrelated.
A will is a type of written or oral communication that determines how you (testator) wants your property and assets dispersed when you die. It lists your beneficiaries and what assets they are to receive. The will also denotes a legal guardian for any dependent children and appoints an executor to distribute the assets and pay your debts and taxes after your death.
The document must clearly state it is a will and must be signed and dated by you (the testator). Two or three witnesses must also sign the will (the number depends on individual state laws).
A living will is a document that states how you wish (or do not wish) to be medically treated should you become too injured or ill to speak for yourself. It is also known as an advance directive.
The living will should include information about whether you want to be resuscitated and what treatment you would like should you become comatose or in a permanent vegetative state. It also should list medical treatments acceptable to you in such circumstances.
Power of Attorney
In addition to a living will, most people choose to name a durable power of attorney. When you become incapacitated, the power of attorney has legal authority to act as your decision-maker. If you choose to name your spouse as a power of attorney, you should also name an alternative person in case your spouse is injured with you.