lang: en_US

What is the Difference Between Living Will and Medical POA?

Ali Katz


Q: What’s the difference between a Living Will and a Medical POA?

- Thinking Ahead

A: Dear Thinking:

A Living Will and a Medical POA (Power of Attorney) are both “advance directives”—specific instructions about the type of medical care you want or do not want in the future, should you be in a position where you can’t decide for yourself. You can prepare and sign these documents on your own before you actually need the medical care, or you can have a Personal Family Lawyer® create them with you for your signature.

A Medical Power of Attorney document designates who is allowed to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. The person you designate will be allowed to communicate with your medical team, sign consent forms, and make decisions on your behalf. It’s a major responsibility, as they will also have the power to decide whether you get life-sustaining treatment if you are near death or permanently unconscious.

A Living Will lets your wishes be known directly to the person you’ve named and medical professionals taking care of you if you cannot make decisions on your own. The living will part of your advance directive is critical because otherwise the people you name won’t necessarily know how you would want decisions made for you. 

It’s certainly a big decision, and a Personal Family Lawyer® is available to help you make plans about how to handle your end-of-life care so that you’re comfortable with your path.