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What Is the Difference Between a Living Will and Power of Attorney?

 Posted on November 14, 2020 in Estate Planning

Medina County estate planning attorney power of attorney

Even though it can be difficult to contemplate the possibility of death, it is important for everyone to consider what they want to happen when they reach the end of their life. This has become especially clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, since the spread of this disease has forced many people to make decisions about the types of care they would want to receive if they are on a ventilator, in a coma, or unable to make their own decisions or communicate their wishes. As part of the estate planning process, it is a good idea to create advance medical directives that address the types of medical care a person wishes to receive and the measures to be taken if he or she becomes incapacitated. These directives may include a living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare.

Making Decisions About Medical Care

While advance medical directives can address what a person wants to happen near the end of his or her life, they can also be used in situations where a person is incapacitated and cannot make his or her wishes known. By considering these issues while a person is still in good health and able to make decisions for himself or herself, family members can avoid being placed in a difficult position if the unexpected should happen.

Powers of attorney are the most flexible type of advance directive, since they can be customized to meet a person’s needs and address their specific concerns. A durable power of attorney for healthcare will appoint a person, known as an “attorney-in-fact,” who will be authorized to make decisions on behalf of the person who created the agreement (known as the “principal”). An attorney-in-fact may be given full authority to make all healthcare decisions for the principal, or he or she may only be given authority in certain areas, and the principal may include instructions about what types of treatment he or she does or does not want to receive. 

A living will, on the other hand, specifically deals with situations in which a person is permanently unconscious or is terminally ill and unable to communicate his or her wishes to a doctor. It will state that life-sustaining treatment, such as feeding tubes or hydration, should be withheld, but “comfort care” meant to address pain and discomfort should still be provided. If a person has both a living will and power of attorney, the decisions in the living will take precedence.

Contact Our Wadsworth Estate Planning Attorney

Making plans about your medical care while you are still healthy and of sound mind can help you and your family avoid uncertainty and disputes in the future. The Law Offices of Andrew M. Parker, LLC can help you understand the steps you should take when creating an estate plan in Ohio, and we will make sure you are prepared for whatever may happen. Contact our Wayne County power of attorney lawyer today at 330-725-4114. We provide free consultations to clients in most cases.



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