Advance Health Care Directives: Should You Have a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will?
A common question many people wonder if you should have both, or if you should just stick with a health care power of attorney.
A properly drafted health care power of attorney and living will are complimentary documents that work together. But, you should know that in the event they contradict one another, the living will trumps the health care power of attorney. When properly planned out and executed, a health care power of attorney will grant discretion to an agent to make decisions on your behalf. We have already talked about how broad this discretion is and how the agent really can make any medical decision they want to for you. But, as soon as you reach one of the threshold conditions where the living will becomes effective – having a terminal condition such that you will die in a reasonably short time or by being in a state of permanent unconsciousness – your living will kicks in and takes over removing your agent’s power to make those decisions for you under the health care power of attorney. That way, you know when you are down to your final days your decision about how you will be medically treated before your death will be made and not subject to any one else’s discretion.