A Healthcare Power of Attorney Versus a Living Will

Elder Care Lawyer Discusses Addressing Medical Needs with POA and Living Will for Long Island Residents

power of attorney Your estate planning process starts with the draft of your living will. However, there are more documents needed to create a solid estate plan than just the will itself. In fact, you might include documents that offer protection in the event that you are incapacitated – these documents can dictate your wishes. Among these materials are your living will and healthcare power of attorney. Both documents address your medical concerns, but they are not the same. It is important to understand how each works and then decide if you need one, both, or neither.

How the Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney Are Similar

A living will and a healthcare power of attorney (POA) both let you elect a person to make medical decisions on your behalf. The person must be at least 18 years and of sound mind, and you must be of sound mind at the time when you draft your documents.

How the Documents Are Different

Your living will is limited to your deathbed only. It is what you wish to have done regarding life-prolonging measures. For example, in the event of brain death, you might not want life support machines.

Your durable power of attorney for healthcare covers a multitude of healthcare decisions. But, it only works while you are incapacitated. If you are suddenly capable of making health care decisions on your own, then your durable healthcare power of attorney is no longer active. Within this document, you tell the POA-elected individual how to act regarding healthcare issues and deathbed wishes.

Do You Need Both?

In some cases, yes, you will need both. A living will covers issues like Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), but does not address all medical concerns. For example, you might not want a particular procedure, such as a blood transfusion, to be done. These limitations must be specified in your durable healthcare POA instead of your living will.

Electing the Right Agent is Critical

In both documents, you select an agent. You can use a different agent for each, or the same agent for both. Most individuals choose their spouse, but if you are unmarried, you might elect a surviving parent, friend, sibling, or other relative.

Most importantly, you want someone whom you can trust. You must sit down with that person, explain your wishes, and ensure that he or she is prepared to carry them out. This agent acts on your behalf, so he or she must be able to put your needs and desires before his or her own.

Get Started with a Comprehensive Estate Plan Today

The more comprehensive your estate plan, the more protection you and your loved ones will have. Therefore, it is best that you meet with an estate planning attorney to explore your options. If you already have an estate plan, an elder care lawyer can review it, look for inconsistencies, and ensure that you are fully protected.

Meet the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today by calling 516-605-0625 or request your free consultation appointment online.

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