Living Will Vs Advance Directive

Living Will Vs Advance DirectiveMental or physical incapacitation due to illness or injuries renders an individual incapable of understanding or communicating the kind of treatment that they want. At such times, it is normal for other individuals to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

This responsibility might be left to your doctors or relatives even if they are people who do not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Naturally, you want to avoid ever being in such a situation, and this is precisely where living wills and advance directives come into the picture.

Living wills and advanced directives are legal documents written to express your preferences for end-of-life care. The documents essentially communicate the kind of healthcare that you would or would not want to be subjected to in case of terminal illness, severe injury or mental incapacitation.

Technically speaking, a living will is just one type of advance directive. The only real difference between the two terms is the fact that a living will is not the only type of advance directive. There are other advance directives, such as a medical power of attorney, which serve similar purposes but do so in different ways.

In some states within the US, an advance directive is a special document that combines all aspects related to the end-of-life care measures for the person creating the document. In such states, a living will can be combined with a medical power of attorney and merged to form a single advance directive document.

Living wills

Living wills are written instructions explaining the kind of care that the individual desires in the event of incapacitation. Its main purpose is to direct the choices that will be made by doctors and other caregivers regarding treatment and care for the said individual. For instance, if you do not wish ever to live as a vegetable then you can create a living will expressly stating that you should be disconnected from life support if you are ever in that state.

Unlike a medical power of attorney, a living will does not mention individuals charged with making sure that the directions therein are followed. In its simplest form, it could be just a single statement like this one, “If I am ever in a coma for more than one month, do not put me on life support, but instead let me go naturally.” Any physician treating the patient will have to follow this instruction to the letter.

Medical power of attorney

A medical power of attorney is a much more exhaustive document compared to a living will even though both are types of advance directives, it is also referred to as a durable power of attorney for healthcare. There is also a health care proxy, which is a legal document that assigns the power to make medical decisions on your behalf to someone else. The person given the power of attorney is called the attorney-in-fact or the agent. He or she may be given the power to make only a single decision (such as when to pull the plug) or all medical decisions related to the guarantor.

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