Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney

Planning for Your Incapacity

Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney let you determine what you want to happen in the event you become terminally ill. They also specify your wishes if you become incapacitated to the extent that you can no longer care for yourself. To make your wishes known, you should have ready a living will and a durable power of attorney for healthcare and for your financial matters. You can create these documents easily using our online software.

What are “living wills”?

A living will is not really a will and does not dispose of your property. Instead it states your wishes for your care in the event that you become incapacitated. Through a living will you can state whether you want treatment to prolong your life, reduce pain, or provide nourishment.

What is a “durable power of attorney for healthcare”?

A durable power of attorney for healthcare names a person (called an “agent”). The agent can make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to care for yourself. The power becomes effective when you are determined to be incapacitated.

I don’t understand how the two differ – aren’t they really the same?

No. A living will does not name an agent and applies only if you become terminally ill. A durable power of attorney for healthcare gives much broader powers. It gives the agent full decision-making authority with respect to a wide variety of situations involving your medical, surgical, hospital and related care.

What about my financial affairs? Who manages those if I become ill or incapacitated?

You should execute a power of attorney for financial matters. It will designate a person to handle your financial affairs in the event you become ill or incapacitated. The person you name can perform duties such as paying your bills, managing your bank accounts, and investing your assets.

How can I create these documents?

Generally, they must be in writing, signed by you, and witnessed by two people. You can fill out a generic form for a power of attorney or living will. You may still want to have it reviewed by an attorney. They can make sure it meets your state’s requirements. You can create these documents easily using our online software.

TIP: It is a good idea to give a copy of the document to your doctor, a family member, or the person you name as agent.

Can I ever revoke the living will or power of attorney?

Yes. You can revoke either document. You can do so in much the same way that you would revoke an ordinary will including destruction or written revocation. In fact, many states even permit oral revocations.

Who can be my agent under a durable power of attorney for healthcare?

You can name almost anyone to be your agent. Though some states prohibit you from naming family members or your doctor.

What types of decisions regarding my care will the agent be able to make?

You have the power to limit or specifically name the powers given to your agent in the durable power of attorney. But the agent generally has broad authority. It can include any decision related to your care, such as:

  • decline or consent to medical care
  • access your medical records
  • select your doctors
  • admit you to a hospital
Living Wills and Powers of Attorney

Read an article on AllLaw about Living Wills