Medical power of attorney versus directive to physician

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning can be a complex area of law, leaving you to consider many different options which you may or not need. But one area that can be beneficial to virtually everyone is that of advance directives. Regardless of your age, they can become important when you least expect them to.

What is a medical power of attorney?

All advance directives operate under the principal that something can happen to you, leaving you unable to make decisions at a time when decisions must be made. A medical power of attorney gives you the opportunity to leave those decisions to someone you trust. That person – typically a family member or close friend – is known as your agent. If you become incapacitated and your attending physician concludes you are unable to make necessary decisions, the authority to do so passes to your agent. They must follow and specific instructions you have given them. The authority granted by the power of attorney continues indefinitely or until you revoke it.

What is a directive to physicians?

Also known as a living will, directives to physicians only apply when your condition is terminal. It is your means of expressing to medical professionals what life-sustaining treatments you would or would not like to receive in order to prolong your life. By way of example, this would include situations like major organ failure or a serious brain disease. There would be no realistic hope of curing the underlying condition and, although certain treatments could delay your death, they could not prevent it.

There’s nothing wrong with executing both a medical power of attorney and a directive to physicians. As a matter of thorough estate planning, the two can work hand-in-hand and cover most conceivable situations. They can help to ensure that your wishes are carried out, should the worst come to pass.