Living Wills and Powers of Attorney have their own distinct purposes.
You have been told estate planning is about more than passing along assets at death.
This is true.
It can also involve such diverse issues as tax planning, selecting guardians for minor children, and incapacity planning.
What would happen if you no longer had the mental capacity to make your own decisions?
Who would make decisions regarding health care and finances?
A recent Wealth Advisor’s article simply asks “Living Will or Lasting Power of Attorney?”
What is the purpose of each?
If you have not heard of a Living Will, perhaps you are familiar with a Health Care Treatment Directive.
That is what we use in our law practice.
Regardless, the basic purpose of each is to help you consider your wishes in advance and provide legally documented instructions for your health care.
If you have strong opinions on life sustaining treatments, then you will be able to specifically address them here.
Although it can only address your medical treatment, having your decision documented in advance can give you peace of mind.
Lasting Power of Attorney
This allows you to grant authority to an individual to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself.
Life sustaining treatment will be decided by the agent you select.
A Lasting Power of Attorney, also knowns as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, can also give your agent the authority to make decisions beyond your medical needs.
As you can see, both serve distinct purposes.
Depending on your situation, you may choose to have one or both.
I recommend having both.
Remember, if your opinions change on medical care, you will need to update your Living Will or Health Care Treatment Directive accordingly.
The order in which the documents are signed, impacts their validity.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create and execute a plan to fit your specific circumstances.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Wealth Advisor (September 21, 2017) “Living Will or Lasting Power of Attorney?”