What Are Living Wills and Power of Attorney Documents for Healthcare?

What Are Living Wills and Power of Attorney Documents for Healthcare?

Sona Sulakian
 | 

Thinking about the end of our lives is never easy, so many put off making estate planning documents. Given the unpredictability of life made even more precarious by the pandemic, here’s a few documents you may consider drafting. 

 

You may already be familiar with a last will, which ensures that your wishes will be respected after you pass on. However, your family will likely have to make many difficult decisions regarding your healthcare near the end of your life. To help your family make these decisions, you should create a Power of Attorney and Living Will. 

 

Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document that dictates what will happen when you’re still alive but unable to communicate your wishes due to age or some medical issue. You should speak with your physician about what decisions you would like to be covered by the will. 

 

Here are some common situations that are often included in a Living Will:

  • Resuscitation: If your heart stops, state whether you’d like to be resuscitated or to receive CPR. Patients who would not like to be resuscitated as often designated as “Do Not Resuscitate.”

  • Comfort and Pain Medicine: Note if you want to receive paid medication. Also, state at what point you would like to be transferred back to your home.. 

  • Breathing Machines and Feeding Tubes: Decide if you would like to be kept alive if that means being connected to breaking machines and feeding tubes.

  • Organ and Tissue Donations: State whether you’d like your organs to be donated or not. 

 

Power of Attorney

You can also create a Power of Attorney, which gives someone close to you the ability to make decisions regarding your healthcare should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes. Often, this power is accompanied by financial permissions so that the person making decisions about your healthcare can access the money to pay for your procedures.

 

You may also want to appoint someone close to you as a Durable Power of Attorney. This person would be able to make financial decisions for you, including liquidating your assets to cover procedures you need if necessary. Also, this person can make any decisions not covered by the Living Will and advocate on your behalf should any issues arise concerning any of your estate planning documents.
 

If you designate someone as a “durable” power of attorney, that person can make decisions when you’re incapacitated due to illness or an accident, so you want to make sure to appoint someone you truly trust. 

 

Finally,  you want to update these documents regularly to account for any changes in your life. The suggested timeline is often every 3-5 years or after a big event in your life, such as a marriage or death. LawChamps can connect you to an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your options and needs in more detail. 

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

Sona Sulakian

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