Living Wills, Advance Directives, and Medical POAs: Aren’t They The Same Thing?

Elder Law Homewood, AL: Understanding Legal Information
Elder Law Homewood, AL: Understanding Legal Information
Elder Law Homewood, AL: Understanding Legal Information

You’ve heard of advance directives and living wills. You’ve also heard your doctor mention a medical power of attorney. Are they the same thing?

Understanding What Living Wills and Advance Directives Cover

Living wills and advance directives are legal documents that detail the medical options or treatments you’d want if you needed life-sustaining measures.

A living will covers end-of-life decisions like whether you’d want to be an organ or tissue donor. What about pain management or medical treatments? If you had a terminal illness and a new treatment would extend your life by a few months, would you want to try it?

Other questions to consider for your living will include whether you’d want CPR if your heart stopped beating. Would you like a mechanical ventilator, a feeding tube, or antibiotics that treat an infection when you’re already nearing the end of your life?

Advance directives are similar, but you don’t have to focus on end-of-life care. It can cover situations where you could recover, such as a medically-induced coma or after a stroke.

Every state has its own rules on how the forms are signed. Some require a certain number of witnesses. In some states, you might need witnesses and a notary.

You should have advance directives and living wills updated after a new diagnosis, after a marriage or divorce, or after 10 years. Keeping this legal form updated is essential to ensure you receive the treatments and care you desire.

Once you have a living will or advance directive, make sure your doctor has a copy. Family members that you trust also need these documents.

Powers of Attorney for Medical Situations Are Different

A medical power of attorney is another legal form you need to draw up with the help of an elder law attorney. In this form, you choose an agent to act on your behalf if you can’t speak up. If you have a stroke, you may need someone you trust to make medical decisions for you.

The person you choose as your healthcare proxy or agent will use the guidelines you lay out in the advanced directive or living will. Your healthcare proxy follows your wishes to make all decisions until you’re able to take back over.

Before you fill out these legal forms, you need to talk to an elder law specialist. You don’t want to be in a situation where the documents are required, only to discover something is wrong. Have an elder law attorney work with you to ensure you have a legally binding advance directive or living will.

If you or a loved one need assistance with Elder Law in Homewood, AL contact The Alabama Elder Care Law Firm, LLC today. (205) 390-0101