What Is The Difference Between A Health Care Power Of Attorney And A "Living Will"?
A Living Will is a written statement of your wishes regarding the use of any medical treatments you specify. The statement is to be followed if you are unable to provide instructions at the time the medical decision needs to be made. Living Wills have been recognized by law in most states, but they are commonly limited to decisions about "life- sustaining procedures" in the event of "terminal illness."
The Health Care Power of Attorney is different from and more flexible than the Living Will in THREE important ways:
1. A Health Care Power of Attorney establishes a Person to act as your agent if you cannot act, but a Living Will does not The advantage of appointing an agent is that, at the time a decision needs to be made, your agent can participate in discussions and weigh the pros and cons of treatment decisions in accordance with your wishes.
2. The Health Care Power of Attorney applies to all medical decisions. unless you decide to include limitations. The Living Will normally applies only to particular decisions near the end of your life.
3. The Health Care Power of Attorney can include specific instructions to your agent about any treatment you want done or want to avoid or about whatever issues you care most about
In theory, it makes sense to combine the Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney in one document. However, you will need to be sure that state laws regarding the contents or formalities for signing the two documents are compatible.
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