What is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Healthcare Proxy?

A living will enables you to state your wishes for end of life care whereas a health care proxy allows you to enable another person to step in and make medical decisions on your behalf. A health care proxy might also be referred to as a health care power of attorney and it is a document in which you enable your power of attorney agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. It’s a good idea to have both of these documents in your estate planning.
The specific rules for each of these documents will vary from one state to another so it’s important to consider what state you claim residency in. Both of these documents enable you to have some level of control over what happens to your future if something happens to you.
A living will would become activated if you do not wish to be resuscitated or if you reach a medical condition upon which doctors believe it is not going to be possible for you to recover. A health care proxy, however, enables this individual to have even greater levels of decision-making power based on you becoming incapacitated.
If you were suddenly incapacitated for a period of several days because you were involved in a car accident, for example, your power of attorney agent would be able to make decisions about your health care needs and concerns. This is why it is important to establish only an individual you truly trust in such a role.
A consultation with an experienced attorney is instrumental in helping you to define whether or not the agent you have established is appropriate for estate planning purposes and your individual needs.
Make sure you sit down with your lawyer to discuss all of the aspects and choices available to you so that you can arrive at a conclusion that is most suited to your individual concerns.
You should fully trust the person who is established as your power of attorney agent or you certainly hope that this agent never has to take action and represents your best interests. It’s a good idea to have such a plan established already because you cannot plan too much for the inevitable. Talk to your VA estate planning lawyer now.
 

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