Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney Explained

Advance Health Care Directive Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney Explained

Get a Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney in a Heartbeat

Have you wondered what might happen if you’re in a serious accident or get ill and can’t make decisions about your health care? You might want to start thinking about these issues to protect yourself and your loved ones.

If you’d like to communicate your wishes regarding medical treatment, you should prepare an advance directive, living will, and health care power of attorney. This article focuses on the last two documents and how you can create them easily.

Living Will vs. Health Care Power of Attorney

A living will and medical power of attorney are legal documents that let you:

  1. Specify your health care preferences
  2. Give instructions to your doctors and health care providers

They can be parts of a more comprehensive document—an advance health care directive.

Both a living will and durable power of attorney for health care:

  • Indicate your wishes regarding health care in case you’re not able to communicate them in specific situations
  • Can be revoked at any time

For these documents to be valid, you need to be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and either have:

  • The forms notarizedUse DoNotPay to get any document notarized fast
  • Two people witness your signature—Check your state law to meet the witness requirements

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

To get a better understanding of these two documents, take a look at the following table presenting the specifics of a living will vs. medical power of attorney:

A Living Will: A Medical Power of Attorney (POA):
  • Addresses end-of-life health care
  • Includes your specific wishes regarding life-prolonging procedures in case you:
    • Get a terminal illness
    • Have been unconscious for a longer period
    • Cannot recover
  • Becomes effective if doctors certify the above-listed conditions
  1. Lets you select a person to make decisions about your health care when you cannot make them for yourself
  2. Covers a wider scope of health care decisions than a living will
  3. Could also provide instructions to your health care agent regarding life-sustaining treatment
  4. Goes into effect once you are incapable of making decisions yourself

Do You Need a Living Will if You Have a Power of Attorney?

It would be a wise choice to create both a living will and health care power of attorney since your:

  • Health care agent might not be able or available to decide about withholding or withdrawing your life support
  • Family members could try to contest your agent’s decisions leading to confusion and arguments

Keep in mind that:

  1. A medical POA is not the same as a (durable) power of attorney
  2. You should create a living will if you have a durable power of attorney since the latter document doesn’t cover health care issues
  3. Some states recognize a slight difference between a medical POA and health care proxy

Generate a Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney With DoNotPay

There is no need to hire a lawyer to draw up a health care document for you since:

You should also not waste time trying to draft an advance directive, living will, and health care power of attorney yourself as you might:

  1. Come across unreliable online forms that are too generic and don’t suit your case
  2. Need to amend available templates to meet legal requirements and your specific needs

Our AI-powered app can prepare an airtight health care document customized to your wishes in a matter of minutes!

Sign up for DoNotPay and take these steps:

  1. Open our Advance Health Care Directive product
  2. Enter information about your health care wishes and agent
  3. Choose to get the document notarized online or provide the names of witnesses

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