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Health care directives: power of attorney versus living will

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2022 | Uncategorized |

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to estate planning. Some aspects will be more or less important to different people and your needs will change as you move through life. Health care directives are one thing which can benefit anyone and at any time.

Health care power of attorney

The purpose of an advance directive is to allow you to control your health care decisions, even when something happens to you and you’re unable to personally express your wishes. A health care power of attorney is when you choose someone you trust – a family member or close friend – and give them the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf.

This person is known as your agent and their authority can be as broad or narrow as you choose. If you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, your agent steps in and makes them for you. You can withdraw a health care power of attorney anytime you choose; otherwise, your agent retains their authority until you die.

Living will

There are a couple of important differences between a living will and a health care power of attorney. While a power of attorney is directed toward your agent, a living will is directed to your healthcare provider. It’s the means by which you provide your doctor with specific instruction regarding what you do or do not want done. Also unlike a power of attorney, a living will only applies when you have a terminal condition. It concerns death-delaying procedures and whether you want to receive them.

Health care powers of attorney and living wills can go hand-in-hand and there’s nothing wrong with having both. In fact, it’s the best way to ensure that your estate planning is as complete as you can make it.