What’s the difference between a health care directive and a health care power of attorney?

What’s the difference between a health care directive and a health care power of attorney?

| May 26, 2021 | Estate Planning

You know that a will is an important part of your estate plans, but a health care directive and a health care power of attorney are also essential.

It’s critical that you understand the difference between these two and why they’re an essential part of your estate plans. The more you know, the easier it may be to make sure that your plans fully cover your wants and needs.

What is the difference between a health care power of attorney and a directive?

A durable health care power of attorney allows someone you appoint to act as your go-to person with doctors and other medical professionals if you become incapacitated and unable to voice your own opinions or make decisions for yourself. The term “durable” means that your preferences outlined in the document remain in effect even if you suffer an incapacitating injury or illness. You maybe wouldn’t be afforded this protection if it weren’t for the inclusion of this modifier.

Health care directives (also known as “living wills”), by comparison, outline what steps you’d like your medical team to take in certain situations if you become incapacitated. You can outline treatments you’d want to receive as well as ones that you’d like doctors to withhold in this document. For example, you can include “do not resuscitate” orders in your health care directive.

Many individuals take time to explore the implications of making certain choices in their health care directive before putting their preferences on paper. The person who holds your power of attorney should be aware of your wishes and comfortable asserting them when the time comes.

Drafting your health care power of attorney or directive

There are many serious medical decisions that you must weigh before drafting a health care directive. You shouldn’t pick just anyone to serve as your proxy, either. An attorney can answer any questions you may have about these estate planning processes to ensure that your wishes are upheld.

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