What distinguishes a medical POA from a living will?

What distinguishes a medical POA from a living will?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2024 | Estate Planning

Growing older often means facing difficult decisions regarding your medical care. However, there is the chance you will not be able to make those decisions yourself because of an illness, disability or the effects of older age.

Fortunately, it is possible to plan ahead for debilitating situations through an advance directive. You might be aware of a living will and a medical power of attorney. While these are two important parts of an advance directive, they differ in some respects.

Living wills

A living will is a legal document that outlines your preferences for your medical care. You specify which treatments you want or do not want if you become terminally ill, severely injured, enter a coma or suffer dementia.

Living wills allow you to dictate what you desire in terms of life-sustaining treatments. You may or may not want resuscitation, artificially administered nutrition and hydration, or the use of ventilators. This document also allows you to describe your wishes regarding your organs.

Medical powers of attorney

A medical power of attorney, also known as a healthcare proxy, is a legal document that appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. The person you choose has the authority to discuss your condition with healthcare providers and make choices about treatments, therapies and end-of-life care based on your preferences and best interests.

Working these components together

While a living will and a medical POA serve different purposes, they can complement each other. Your living will provides guidance on your wishes, and your medical power of attorney ensures someone you trust can interpret and advocate for those wishes if necessary. Your POA can use your living will as a reference when making decisions on your behalf.

By creating a living will and appointing a medical power of attorney, you take control over your future medical care. These documents ensure your voice is heard even if you cannot personally communicate your preferences.