As you develop your estate plan, one concern that may cross your mind is the future state of your health and its handling. There are two options for ensuring the carrying out of your healthcare wishes in the case that you find yourself incapacitated, living wills and powers of attorney.
Before you contact your legal counsel about drafting either one, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
How they differ
A living will, also known as a health care directive, is a document in which you detail the treatment you want or do not want if you are in a terminal state. Examples of areas commonly covered in one include whether or not you want:
- The doctor to put you on a ventilator if you become unable to breathe on your own
- Your organs and tissues to become donations
- To spend your last days at home rather than a hospital
- Tube feeding if you become unable to take in nutrients
When you draft a power of attorney, you create a document granting a trusted individual the power to make decisions on your behalf. You may choose the extent of the authority you allow this person. It may encompass simply the financial or other areas, such as financial. You may also choose to only give permission for the individual to act for you for a single transaction or a certain length of time.
Why you need both
In a living will, you provide instructions and proof of them. With a power of attorney, you ensure someone you trust has the ability to carry them out. Having both helps cover all your bases.
Living wills and powers of attorney are equally vital documents. Having both drafted well in advance helps ensure you receive the medical care you want.