Q&A On Powers Of Attorney And Living Wills
Why is it important to have a power of attorney and living will?
Having a power of attorney and/or living will is something we should all have — it helps us plan for our future, especially for times when we either cannot think or speak for ourselves. Both of these documents involve choosing someone we trust to act on our behalf.
What is the difference between a power of attorney and living will?
A power of attorney is a document you, the principal, drafts which allows your designated person, the agent, to act on your behalf. Under a power of attorney, your agent can, for example, cash checks on your behalf, file for bankruptcy on your behalf, give gifts on your behalf and do so much more. The type of powers your agent can have under the power of attorney will depend on what you specifically designate in the written document.
A living will, on the other hand, is a document that details how you wish to be medically treated (or not treated, as the case may be) in the event that you are in an “end-stage medical condition.” An “end-stage medical condition” is some type of advanced illness or another condition you are suffering from which cannot be cured and will eventually result in your death, despite the introduction of any type of medical treatment.
Whom should you choose for your power of attorney?
It is important that you choose someone you fully trust to act as your “agent” in either a power of attorney or living will document. It is also important that you know how to revoke a power of attorney or living will in case your agent decides to abuse his/her authority to act on your behalf.