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Living Will vs. Medical Power of Attorney

Posted by Search Control on November 21, 2019

There may come a time when you are mentally incapacitated and important decisions need to be made. Naming someone to make medical decisions for you is an important matter, and it’s essential to put a lot of thought into who you choose for this critical role. Without having someone in place, you leave your life entirely in the hands of your medical professionals who may not always take your personal best interest into account. However, you may be confused whether you need a living will or a medical power of attorney. The following will explain the differences between the two to help you choose the right one.

Living Will

A living will is a document you prepare that lets the medical professionals know what your wishes are regarding life prolonging measures that should and should not be taken. For instance, this document should answer questions like whether you want to be resuscitated if the need arises, whether you are ok with being put on life support to sustain your life and if you would prefer to die as naturally as possible. How you feel about these decisions will only go into effect in the event you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated and are unable to make the decision for yourself.

Medical Power of Attorney

When you choose someone to be your medical power of attorney, you are naming someone who will make all medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or unconscious and are unable to make decisions. The right to make these decisions continues as long as the patient is unconscious, but as soon as you are capable, the decisions become your own once again. For this reason, it’s essential to choose someone you trust with your best interests and who you feel confident will follow your directives. Before anything happens, it’s essential to talk to the individual you choose as your medical power of attorney about what you want if something happens to you. This will help guide their decisions and ensure you get the care you expect if the worst should happen.

Both Together

Most people choose to use both a living will and medical power of attorney together. This is because the medical power of attorney goes into effect without being on your death bed, while a living will covers the life prolonging measures often taken when you are on the verge of death. This means they each serve a different purpose in your medical care should the worst happen. Because the living will goes into effect when death is imminent, it allows you to rest assured your medical power of attorney will handle the decisions for your care up until you reach a point where life saving measures are required. At this time, the living will takes over to ensure your wishes are followed exactly as you want. After all, if you don’t wish to be resuscitated but your medical power of attorney doesn’t want to make the decision to pull the plug, the living will provides your medical team with the information necessary to do what you would want.

Choosing a living will or medical power of attorney isn’t one of the most pleasant things to think about, but it is necessary to ensure your life is handled the way you want it to be. While many individuals choose one or the other, when you understand the purpose of each, you will quickly realize having both can have advantages and ensure your wishes are followed precisely, even when you can’t make the decisions for yourself. Talking with an experienced attorney can help you make the right decisions and protect your life the way you want.