Understanding Living Wills, Healthcare Powers of Attorney, and Durable Powers of Attorney

Understanding Living Wills, Healthcare Powers of Attorney, and Durable Powers of Attorney

In an ideal world, we’d all remain healthy and capable of making our own healthcare decisions throughout our lives. However, life can throw unexpected challenges our way, making it essential to plan for unforeseen circumstances. Here are some estate planning options to consider.

Living wills

A living will, also known as an advance directive or healthcare directive, is a legal document that outlines your preferences for medical treatment in case you become unable to communicate your wishes due to illness or incapacity. It typically covers scenarios such as life-sustaining treatments, resuscitation, and end-of-life care.

When to use:

  • Terminal illness: If you receive a terminal diagnosis, living wills specify your end-of-life care preferences.
  • Severe injury or illness: In situations where you might face permanent unconsciousness or vegetative state, you may outline your treatment preferences.
  • Medical intervention concerns: Regardless of age, having a living will ensures your desires regarding medical interventions are known.

Healthcare power of attorney

A healthcare power of attorney (HCPOA), also known as a healthcare proxy or durable power of attorney for healthcare, appoints a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. This person, known as your healthcare agent or proxy, should be someone who understands your wishes and can advocate for you effectively.

When to use:

  • Comprehensive healthcare planning: In addition to a living will, appointing a healthcare power of attorney offers an extra layer of protection for your healthcare decisions.
  • Complex medical situations: These powers of attorney are useful if you have complex medical needs—or anticipate potential disagreements among family members regarding your care.
  • Geographical issues: This can be useful if if you live far from family members or friends who would otherwise make decisions for you.

Using an HCPOA ensures that someone who knows your values and preferences is making medical decisions on your behalf. They allow your healthcare agent to adapt decisions to changing circumstances and medical information, and offer legal protection against potential disputes over your care.

Durable power of attorney

A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a broader legal document that grants someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Unlike a healthcare power of attorney, which focuses solely on healthcare decisions, a DPOA covers a wider range of affairs.

These are useful if you want to ensure someone can manage your finances and assets if you’re unable to do so, especially if you own a business and need someone to oversee its operations in your absence.

Living wills, healthcare powers of attorney and durable powers of attorney ensure your wishes are respected and your affairs are managed according to your preferences. Call the estate planning attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein to get started.

Ethical, Responsive, Committed and Compassionate

Entrust Our Team of Attorneys to Skillfully Advocate for You in Any Legal Matter

Translate »