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A medical power of attorney or a living will

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Estate Planning

When you’re making an estate plan, one of your goals may be to make some healthcare decisions in advance. You know that complications could arise unexpectedly. You could suffer from a stroke or a brain hemorrhage that leaves you incapacitated. It’s best to have some sort of medical plan in place in case this happens.

Two of the main ways to do this are with a living will or a medical power of attorney. What are the differences between these types of advanced directives?

Making distinct decisions

With a living will, the goal is to make clear decisions about what type of healthcare you want. Maybe you don’t want to be kept on life support, for example. You can put those instructions in your living will. When your medical team is deciding what type of treatment you need, they can refer to this document to see if there’s anything that you would prefer or that they should avoid.

Letting someone else make the decisions

The problem with making these decisions in advance is that you naturally won’t have all of the pertinent medical information because you don’t know what the future holds. An alternative is to use a medical power of attorney and choose an agent. They are then legally authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. They can decide what they think would be best in any given situation – and what they think you would’ve wanted.

Both of these tactics can work, depending on your needs and what you feel is best for your family. Just be sure you know what legal steps to take.