A health care power of attorney (also called an advance directive) is a legal document that names a family member or trusted friend to make health care decisions for you if you are physically or mentally incapable of doing so.

An advance directive both states your health care choices in writing and designates someone to carry them out. Without a written advance directive, you have no control over who makes the decisions or what choices that person makes. Additionally, your spouse or family members may be unable to access information about your health.

A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney is a document through which you name another person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them. In addition, a well-drafted health care power of attorney allows your agent to have access to your medical records.

Your agent is required to make decisions according to directions you provide. If your wishes are not known, your agent will make decisions in your best interest based on the discussions you have had with your agent. The document is “durable” because it is still effective even if you become incapacitated or incompetent.

Living Will

A Living Will is a companion document that expresses in writing your directions for your medical care if you are unable to express your wishes yourself. It can direct your physician to withhold or withdraw certain life-sustaining procedures if you are in a terminal condition. However, it can be much more comprehensive than that, and can include what you want to happen in various situations.

A health care power of attorney gives your agent the authority to make a decision regarding your health care. The living will is your direction to the agent.

Advance directives are like a second set of keys to your car. You give them to someone you trust in case you can’t get where you need to go.

Contact the attorneys at Abendroth Russell Barnett Law Firm to help you draft your advance directives.