When it comes to estate planning, two of the most important documents are a living will and a power of attorney (POA). A living will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding medical treatments and decisions. On the other hand, a power of attorney grants authority to someone you trust to act on your behalf. A medical power of attorney is a document used to designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
This document is also known as an advance directive for power of attorney for health care. It comes into effect if you are unable to make your own health care decisions and your doctor certifies this fact in writing. In some states, the living will and power of attorney are combined into a single form, often called an advance directive. This document contains a living will and a medical power of attorney.
Different states have different requirements for what constitutes a living will or a health care directive. Implementing a medical power of attorney allows you to discuss your treatment wishes with someone you trust before any unforeseen medical circumstances so that they can make health care decisions in your best interest. A power of attorney for health care gives another person (the proxy) the ability to make decisions for you regarding your health care. This includes end-of-life treatment and other areas of health care.
However, just like a living will, the proxy only has power to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so on your own, whether due to loss of consciousness or mental capacity. Permanent unconsciousness occurs when there is a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the patient can no longer think, feel, move knowingly, or be aware that they are alive, and there is no hope of improvement. These health care documents are available for the benefit of people seeking peace of mind that they will not be kept alive, indefinitely, in a vegetative state. To ensure you get these benefits, you must create your health care directive with the help of an estate planning attorney, particularly one with experience in elder law.
Keep in mind that the person with a permanent power of attorney for health care can never contradict the terms of their living will. Business Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills Cannot Substitute for the Informed Professional Judgment of a Pennsylvania Estate Planning Attorney. In conclusion, it is important to understand the difference between a living will and a power of attorney for health care. A living will outlines your wishes regarding medical treatments and decisions while a power of attorney grants authority to someone you trust to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.