Determining Living Will vs Power of Attorney (POA) is often difficult because people wonder if they really need a Power of Attorney or a Living Will as they get older. They don’t believe they will ever get to a point where they cannot make their own decisions when it comes to medical care or long-term care. Unfortunately, most people do get to this point, and then their loved ones are left with deciding what is best. Before jumping in, it is important to know the differences between durable power of attorney vs living will and which is right for you.
Durable Power of Attorney vs Living Will and the differences.
Before identifying the reasons you should have a POA or Living Will, these are the differences between each one.
And just for clarification sake, when we refer to Power of Attorney (POA), we actually mean Durable Power of Attorney. What does durable mean? In simple terms it means that it stays in effect if you become incapacitated or some how unable to manage your affairs on your own. Whereas a regular POA (“nondurable”) would automatically end if the personal losses mental capacity. So for our purposes here, when we use the term POA, we are referring to the “durable” type.
POA is when you appoint someone to make all of your decisions. If you become incapacitated, this person can make all of the decisions having to do with your medical care. This includes financial decisions to pay for any services needed while you are unresponsive.
A Living Will is a document that outlines what you want to happen if you become incapacitated. Most people include whether or not they want to be resuscitated in this document. This is an important consideration and can sometimes depend on religious beliefs. It’s a personal decision for many people, so that’s why they want to have it in writing.
Living Will vs Power of Attorney and is it Really that Important?
Someone who doesn’t have a POA or Living Will is at the mercy of their loved ones if they become unresponsive. If no loved ones are available or do not want to make the decision about care, the medical community will do what they believe is in your best interest. Either way, by not having the appropriate documents in order, you will not have expressed your wishes of future care and treatment.
Other people’s beliefs regarding what is in your best interest may not exactly be what you believe is in your best interest.
So, yes! We believe they are important. Whether you prefer durable power of attorney vs living will is a personal choice and may involve considering many varying circumstances. Consulting an attorney (elder law attorney) who specializes in this type of practice may be a good option. Eldercare Connections is also a good option. They can help you work through some things to consider, and also can recommend an attorney to consult who specializes and can create the appropriate documents.
How to Create a POA and Living Will
Identifying a POA is a legal procedure. You must speak to an elder law attorney to draft the document for you. You and the person that you are appointing as your POA will need to sign the legal document. A copy will go to you and the POA, while the original stays with the attorney. This is in case the copies are destroyed and the attorney needs to prove that your POA has been legally identified by you as your POA.
The Living Will is also a legal document. You will speak with an elder law attorney to discuss what you would like to happen if you become incapacitated. You can include medical care and financial plans in the document, so there is no question of what you would like to happen. In case something does happen that you become unresponsive, this plan will be followed. Several significant people, i.e. spouse, family member, etc. should know about this Living Will, so that it can be furnished if needed.
How Eldercare Connections Helps Determine Living Will vs Power of Attorney
Eldercare Connections is a free senior placement services & elderly home care referral for people who are growing older and their loved ones. If you need help with a POA and/or Living Will, we can help you find an elder law attorney. Simply call us or contact us through our website for more information.