Essential documents often depend on where you are in life. Sometimes, a full estate plan is needed with lots of complex planning. Other times, a simple will is all that you need. Choosing your documents can be as simple as reviewing a list of important documents and determining what’s best for you.
Regardless of how complex your plan is, essential documents for you should include healthcare documents in case you become incapacitated. When discussing them, a common question that arises is choosing between a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. These are both state governed documents, which means they can differ from state to state. So before you choose, you should talk to a lawyer licensed in the state where you live.
Both documents relate to health care and medical decisions that you are allowing someone else to make for you. But there are important differences.
Living Will Vs. Health Care Power Of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney covers your medical decisions when you are incapable of making those decisions for yourself. It can be more broad in its scope than a living will. You can direct medical decisions for your deathbed issues as well as while you are still alive.
A living will, on the other hand, is normally limited to deathbed types of issues. You will usually address “Do Not Resuscitate” directions and end of life decisions. These can also be included in a health care power of attorney.
Should I Do Both?
As a broad principle, I usually recommend a health care power of attorney for my clients to use the variety of medical decisions that you can include. Some people request to have both documents created, but normally that is not necessary. Since you can include the directions that would be in a living will in a health care power of attorney, it’s more expeditious to use just one document.
Do I Need One?
Many clients wonder if they need a healthcare power of attorney. The answer is similar to the overall question about estate plans. You aren’t required to have one, but it’s a good idea to have one. If you are already working with an attorney to draft an estate plan, these are documents you should consider including. It doesn’t make sense to only plan in piecemeal.
If you’ve been considering a will and now realize you really need a full estate plan, or this is the first you are hearing of it and would like more information, call my office to set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can discuss if it is the best option for your situation – (877) AMAYERS.