Living Wills and Power of Attorney
A Living Will
A living Will is similar to a Will, however it provides directions for what to do when you are still alive but unable to make decisions for various reasons. Generally, a living Will is used when someone has become incapable of making their own decisions (either financial or personal) for some reason. A living will allows you to state your wishes relating to the medical treatment you want to receive, and to appoint the person (known as an attorney) you want to follow your wishes or to make decisions for you.
Decision making regarding medical treatment of a seriously ill or incapacitated family member is very difficult and painful. Living wills help to ease this burden by taking some of these tough decisions away from your family members. The power given here is similar to the power given through a Power of Attorney, explained below.
Power of Attorney
By giving someone Power of Attorney, a person gives someone else power to make decisions for them if for any reason they are unable to make the decision. Appointing a Power of Attorney is useful in the event that you become sick, mentally ill, incapacitated, move away temporarily, or for any reason cannot make decisions.
The scope of a Power of Attorney’s duties vary according to the agreement. It can cover anything from medical care, financial decisions, bank account access, investments, or more. It is important to carefully consider the scope of power you want to give and to word the agreement carefully, with help of a professional. The Power of Attorney should be someone you know you can trust, such as a spouse, close friend, or adult child.
If you do not appoint a Power of Attorney and you enter a situation where you cannot make your own decisions, close friends or family would have to apply to the court to appoint someone to manage your affairs. This is costly and time-consuming, and the whole process can be avoided by setting up a Power of Attorney in advance that becomes effective in the event that you come unable to make your own decisions.