Someday you may be incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This can happen suddenly because of an accident or gradually due to an underlying medical condition, such as dementia. In either case, advance directives are ways for you to address your wishes to the people who will be responsible for you in your incapacitated state. Two of the most common types of advance directives are health care powers of attorney and living wills. They don’t do the same thing, but they work together to make sure your needs are met and your health care wishes are honored.
Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney Marion NC gives an individual of your choosing the authority to make medical decisions for you in the event that you cannot participate in your own care. This person is the point of contact for your care team. The person to whom you grant authority with your power of attorney has many names. Depending on the jurisdiction, he or she may be known as an attorney-in-fact, agent, advocate, surrogate, representative, or proxy. Whatever title you give to the individual, you should someone whom you can trust to act in your interest. You cannot choose a doctor or health care provider as your attorney-in-fact.
A living will is a document that sets forth instructions for your medical care, outlining treatments that you do or do not want to receive. It only takes effect if you are unable to speak for yourself due to incapacitation. While your attorney-in-fact has the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf, he or she cannot countermand the instructions that you set forth in your living will. That takes legal precedence as your expressed wishes.
It is helpful to have both a living will and a power of attorney. A living will can be a check on the authority of the attorney-in-fact, and he or she can make decisions in any situations that it does not cover.