Is A Health Care Power Of Attorney The Same As A Living Will?

An advance directive in health care primarily comes in two different forms, a living will and a power of attorney. These are written instructions for people that help them to clarify what type of health care they do or do not want, if any situation renders them unable to make the decision themselves.

To fully understand the difference between living will vs power of attorney, it is important to look at each type in detail.

Living Will VS Power Of Attorney

What is a Living Will?

iStock_000001423917SmallA living will is often confused with the traditional will which most people draft while they are alive. A living will is actually a legal document that is drafted with the required instructions for your particular health provider, physician and family in general.

The whole purpose of a living will is to inform the above mentioned people regarding whether or not you wish to undergo life-sustaining medical treatment in the event of a terminal condition.

Simply put, it is a statement by you depicting your wishes concerning use of technology on you to sustain your life artificially, especially when there is no marginal or no possibility of recovery.

The Requirements for a Living Will

  • You must be of at least 19 years of age, be married or have been married.
  • Living will must be handwritten, or typed
  • The will must be signed by you, or signed by someone other than a witness. The restrictions of being a witness do not apply to a notary public.

Healthcare Power Of Attorney

iStock_000002288015SmallA power of attorney for health care is a type of document through which you name another person to make decisions for you in case you are unable to do so yourself. This person is known as attorney-in-fact or an agent.

This attorney-in-fact is authorized to make decisions as per your wishes that you can state in the document. If some decision is to be made which is not clearly mentioned in the document, then the attorney-in-fact will make such decisions keeping in mind your best interest.

The Requirements for a Healthcare Power of Attorney

Similar requirements apply to healthcare power of attorney document as those which applied to a living will, with an addition.

  • You must be of at least 19 years of age, be married or have been married.
  • Living will must be handwritten, or type-written
  • The will must be signed by you, or signed by someone other than a witness. The restrictions of being a witness do not apply to a notary public.
  • The power of attorney for health care document must clearly designate an attorney-in-fact or ­an agent. Also, a successor to the attorney-in-fact should also be declared in case the first designated person is not able to carry out the responsibility.

Conclusion

Based on the above, it is clear that a health care power of attorney is not the same as a living will. In the former, you are assigning a person to make decisions for you based on your wishes. Whereas, in the latter, you are making decisions for yourself in advance regarding use of technology, in case you are not able to do so in the future.


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