Both a living will and a medical power of attorney can be used as part of a person’s estate plan. They both help ensure that medical decisions made on your behalf reflect your wishes.
With a living will, the person who is drafting the document typically lists instructions that they want to be followed. These are clear instructions regarding what type of medical treatment they want if they are near the end of their life. For instance, someone doesn’t want to be kept on life support if they’ll never regain consciousness.
A medical power of attorney doesn’t list these instructions. It provides the person you have authorized as your agent with the legal authority to communicate with your medical team and advocate for the wishes you’ve outlined in your living will if you can’t do so yourself.
Considering all relevant details
One of the biggest advantages of a medical power of attorney is that the person given this authority has access to all health-related details and can make the best decision at that time.
For example, someone may be generally against being kept on life support because they don’t want to be a burden for their family if they’re not going to recover. But that doesn’t mean they would be against it in all situations. Their agent can decide what is appropriate when looking at their treatment options, the odds of a full recovery, and the projections for their quality of life in the future. You can provide examples of the situations in which you don’t want life-prolonging measures taken.
Both documents are critical for all adults to have, even if they don’t yet have a complete estate plan. The key to estate planning is to consider all the options you have.