Planning your estate allows you to make future decisions about yourself and your assets at a time when you have the capacity to do so.
Durable healthcare powers of attorney and living wills are both vital estate planning tools. Understanding the differences between them is necessary for effective planning.
A living will
A living will is an advance directive that details your requests for handling your end-of-life care. This legal document outlines the steps you want doctors to take or avoid to prolong your life when you can no longer communicate. The advantage to a living will is that you remain in control of your care and release family members from being required to make difficult decisions.
A medical durable power of attorney
While both a living will and medical durable power of attorney (MDPOA) detail how to handle future medical situations, an MDPOA covers a broader time range. It is not restricted to end-of-life situations, and it may be temporarily effective during times of incapacitation.
By creating this plan, you give authorization to a health care agent who works with your medical team to make decisions about your care when you can not. If you explain your wishes to your agent, they can then share your desires with the medical teams to ensure you receive the care you want.
Both living wills and medical durable powers of attorney allow you to share your desires for medical care when you can no longer express them yourself. Since each tool is slightly different in the scope of coverage, having both gives you a voice in various medical situations.