Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney
As we grow older, our health is often at the forefront of our minds when we make decisions. It should be no different when making an Estate Plan. Living Wills and Healthcare Powers of Attorney (also known as Advanced Directives) help convey your wishes to doctors and loved ones should your health greatly deteriorate. Understanding these documents and their impact on your quality of life can be confusing – consult an experienced Estate Planning attorney by clicking here.
Q: What is a Living Will?
A: A Living Will allows you to declare what you want to happen if you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or need to rely on life-sustaining treatment. With a Living Will, you can state whether you want to receive life support technology or not, and your family and doctors will be legally bound to fulfill your wishes, even before your death.
Q: What types of medical treatment can I direct in my Living Will?
A: Some types of medical treatment you can direct in your Living Will are whether or not to have CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to restart breathing or a heartbeat, artificially or technologically supplied nutrition or hydration (food and fluids through a “feeding tube”), and DNR (do not resuscitate) orders.
Q: I already have a Living Will – can I change it?
A: Yes, you can change or revoke your Living Will at any time. The Living Will goes into effect only if illness or unconsciousness renders you unable to communicate.
Q: What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?
A: Through a Health Care Power of Attorney, you can name someone you trust to make decisions regarding your health care even if your condition is not terminal. A Health Care Power of Attorney only goes into effect if you are unable—temporarily or permanently—to make decisions about your health care treatment. The person you name (agent or attorney in fact) is required to make decisions consistent with your wishes. If you also have a Living Will, your Health Care Power of Attorney cannot overrule the living will.
Q: Who decides if I cannot make health care decisions for myself?
A: Only a licensed physician can determine when you’re no longer able to make your own decisions about your health care or treatment.
Q: What kind of health care decisions does a Health Care Power of Attorney cover?
A: The person you choose to make health care decisions for you (your agent or attorney in fact), can convey your wishes about many things, including consenting to drugs, treatment, and procedures, receiving CPR, comfort care, or artificial or technologically supplied nutrition & hydration, executing or revoking DNR orders, electing to make anatomical gifts and donor registration, signing releases, reviewing health care records, arranging for stays at facilities, coordinating transportation, and many other things. However, there are certain limitations to some types of decisions, and you can also include your own instructions. Consult an estate planning attorney by clicking here for more information.
Looking for information about financial Powers of Attorney? Click here.