Serving the needs of California clients throughout Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, and San Joaquin Counties, Carolyn M. Young of Carolyn M. Young Fiduciary Services emphasizes personalized assistance. On common question asked by Ms. Young’s clients involves the distinction between durable health care power of attorney (POA) and living wills.
Both have a core function of enabling a trusted relative, friend, or appointed agent to make specified medical choices on one’s behalf. The person who creates such a document must be of sound mind and a legal adult, and not coerced into such a decision.
Where the document types diverge is that living wills have a more limited scope and focus exclusively on end-of-life issues. One common example is stating whether life-prolonging measures should be taken, and for how long, in cases of terminal illness or brain death.
By contrast, durable power of attorney for health care involves the full range of health care decisions, should the individual experience mental or physician incapacitation and be unable to make such decisions independently. This may encompass provisions that lay out how the agent should handle specific end-of-life issues.
It is possible to have both types of documents set in place, with the durable health care component articulating broader medical concerns and the living will covering aspects such as “do not resuscitate.”