Many people who become incapacitated by sickness, old age or severe injuries are unable to make decisions about their medical care and treatment. Documents like medical directives and medical powers of attorney can help you avoid this situation and keep control over your health care.
What is a medical directive?
“Medical directive” is generally another term for “living will.” It is a formal written document that details the specific treatments and procedures you want to have or wish to avoid, should you become incapacitated. For instance, some people use their living will to refuse resuscitation or leave instructions about pain management. You may also use this document to say whether you want to become an organ donor and which organs you wish to donate.
What is a medical power of attorney?
With a medical power of attorney, you can appoint an agent to decide on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This agent does not have to be your attorney; it could be someone you trust to have your best interests in mind, like a relative or friend. You may indicate limits on your agent’s authority, such as how long they will play the role.
Which one is better?
Ultimately, which document you use will depend on your situation and goals, although it is possible to combine the two. Some people do this to have an agent overseeing their treatment and ensuring that health care providers follow the instructions laid down in the living will.
Medical directives and medical powers of attorney are critical components of any estate plan. They help ensure that you are still mostly in control even if something terrible happens in the future. An estate planning attorney can help you finalize all components of your estate plan and ensure that they are up to date with the latest statutes and guidelines.