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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Health care power of attorney vs. living will: a personal choice

No matter your medical status or age, it's crucial to draft some form of legal document detailing your medical care wishes. Even if you are healthy, you need a legal document in place in the event you fall victim to a critical injury or accident. If you are unable to communicate, this advance care planning documentation ensures your health care matches your wishes.

There are several ways to put advance care planning or advance directives in place such as a health care power of attorney or a living will. These documents describe your personal beliefs and wishes about health care decisions as well as the kind of care you do or do not want if you suffer an accident or illness.

When you complete a health care power of attorney, you will be able to assign the person of your choice to make critical health care decisions if you are unable to do so on your own. The person you assign will make these decisions based on the directives you expressed in your power of attorney for health care. For instance, you can specify whether or not you want to be put on life support or have surgeries.

A living will, on the other hand, is a way for you to inform your doctors about which, if any, life-sustaining methods they are to use on your behalf. If you are in a vegetative state or near death, a living trust gives your physicians guidance about life-support and other important decisions.

The main difference between a health care power of attorney and a living will is that the former can go into affect anytime you are incapacitated and isn't limited to sustaining life while the latter can only go into effect when you are near death or in a vegetative state. Either directive is a serious personal choice that requires thought and planning. An estate planning attorney can be an excellent source of guidance when considering what kind of advance directives to put into place.

Source: Baraboo News Republic, "Advance directives require personal choices" No author given, Apr. 26, 2014

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