The Difference Between a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will

Advance medical directives are written legal documents that allow you to specify the type of medical care that you want in the future, as well as appoint who you would want to make health care decisions on your behalf should you lose the capacity to make these decisions on your own. Advance medical directives are an aspect of estate planning that help direct your assets and decisions later in life, while other aspects of estate planning, such as wills and trusts, distribute or manage your assets after you pass.
Many do not realize that more than just a Living Will is needed as an advance medical directive. A Living Will provides direction in a very limited set of circumstances. Specifically, in Colorado, a Living Will provides your choices on the administration, withholding or withdrawal of specific life sustaining procedures if you are terminally ill and unconscious or incapacitated for at least seven consecutive days. It is used to document your decisions regarding CPR, medications, ventilators, hydration, nutrition, and more and when you would like these measures used, not used or withdrawn.
A Medical Power of Attorney in Colorado Springs and Denver CO, on the other hand, is broader in scope, as it is a document that appoints a health care ‘agent’ or ‘proxy’ to make medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot do so yourself. Unlike a Living Will, the authority of this document does not only apply to terminal illness or a vegetative state, but in other situations, such as incapacitation due to senility or loss of consciousness after an accident. The scope of a Medical Power of Attorney can be as broad or as limited as you wish it to be. It can provide very specific instructions to your health care proxy or general guidance on your wishes.
Advance medical directives are an essential part of estate planning. Should you not have these important documents in place, your loved ones may be forced into a situation where a court is involved and possibly a guardianship to give someone the authority to make medical decisions for you. A set of advance medical directives, including a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney in Colorado Springs and Denver CO, allow you to maintain not only dignity, but a measure of control over your future health care issues.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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