What are Health Care Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care, and Why Should I Have Them?

by Julie O'Brien on September 22, 2009

When establishing an estate plan, it is important not only to plan for death but to also plan for managing our persons and our estates in the event we become incapacitated. Also, it is very important to many people that they give direction on how they are to be treated in the event of a terminal illness or permanent vegetative state. The following explains the documents providing such protection.

Health Care Directive (sometimes referred to as a “living will”)

A health care directive specifies your wishes concerning the use or non-use of life-sustaining treatments should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. The directive provides guidance for those who might be in a position to make decisions for you. While you might think something like “everyone who knows me knows I am not the type of person who would want my life to be artificially prolonged”, there is a vast difference between making such an assumption and having your wishes clearly specified in a legal document. The latter provides peace of mind that you have done everything possible to have some control over such crucial matters. And should your loved ones actually be called upon to make such decisions, the documents provide peace of mind for them as well. Further, physicians are trained and take an oath to do whatever possible to keep people alive. Without specific direction to withhold treatment, they must continue life sustaining treatment.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney for health care is similar to a durable power of attorney for property, but it relates to decisions concerning health care and other health-related matters. With this document, you appoint the one you want to make decisions concerning your medical care and to implement your wishes stated in a Health Care Directive. This power of attorney would not typically be given to be effective immediately.

At The Meyer Law Firm, P.C., you will find professionals with the knowledge of this area of law combined with the experience and sensitivity to fully appreciate your particular needs. If you think you would like to know more about making an estate plan, give The Meyer Law Firm, P.C. a call 425.445.1002 to set an appointment to review your situation.