A severe injury or illness may leave you unable to discuss medical issues with your health care providers. As the American Bar Association explains, a durable medical power of attorney authorizes a chosen and trusted individual to communicate for you.
Doctors may share your medical records and discuss your health situation with your chosen representative. He or she may then make decisions for you that your documents authorize.
When may I require a living will in addition to a POA?
A durable medical power of attorney provides instructions for your representative to discuss and decide routine treatments if you become unconscious or cannot speak. A living will, however, specifies your wishes during life-threatening circumstances and includes end-of-life care.
If you become terminally ill, your chosen representative may direct your doctor to follow the instructions in your living will. Your living will may authorize certain types of treatment or procedures that you prefer. Your instructions may also describe techniques and medications that doctors do not have permission to use.
How may my medical-legal documents help my family?
A living will and durable medical power of attorney may take the emotional burden of discussing end-of-life care away from your family. Medical professionals often prefer to review the medical-legal documents a patient prepared in advance. They may serve as a more straightforward way to determine treatments. Obtaining a consensus from a patient’s relatives may prove difficult.
Instead of discussing your personal wishes with your spouse or children, your doctor can consult with your chosen representative or review your living will. Your condition may involve sensitive issues that result in your relatives contesting the manner in which you wish to receive treatment. Your health care providers, however, must follow your instructions as outlined in your documents.