An advance directive provides a clear understanding of your healthcare wishes before you can't express them, and a permanent power of attorney makes decisions for you that you can no longer make. A power of attorney for medical or medical care is a type of advance directive in which you name a person to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. In some states, this directive may also be referred to as a permanent power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for health care. There are two fundamental documents that must be executed during your lifetime to ensure you get the kind of medical care you want if you are ever incapacitated.
The first is commonly called a living will, advance directive or appointment of patient advocate, or something similar. Regardless of name, these documents allow you to instruct doctors and healthcare providers about the type of medical care you want and don't want if you are unable to report them yourself. Knowing the differences between these two designations will help you decide if you should name the same person to have both directives on your behalf. Choosing the right legal document for your needs will make a difference, and an estate planning lawyer can help.
In addition, for those who own property in multiple states and want a POA to be used for a sale or transfer of such property, it is important to ensure that the document meets the enforcement requirements of both states in order to be registered. Each state has its own advance directive form, which gives you questions to answer and specific things you can choose to accept or decline, but you can always add additional information about your wishes if the form doesn't include everything you're worried about. Selecting a different person for your financial power of attorney and your medical power of attorney can help you choose the best person for each job. Finally, keep in mind that in some states they combine the living will and the permanent power of attorney for health care into a single document called an advance health care directive.
Instead, advanced health care directives, also known as appointing a health care proxy, perform this type of function. The health care legal document does not cover financial decisions, so this legal tool is different from powers of attorney. The difference is that a power of attorney manages someone's affairs while they are still alive, while an executor of a will manages someone's affairs after they die. If you are incapacitated in the future and your medical treatment providers can choose between a POA and an ACD, then any desire set forth in the ACD will take precedence over any decision made by an attorney under a permanent power of attorney.
POA is a wonderful tool in the hands of a trusted agent, but it can cause a lot of pain if administered too freely. Review your advance directives with your doctor and health care agent to make sure you have filled out the forms correctly. Your doctor will fill out the form based on the contents of your advance directives, the discussions you have with your doctor about the likely course of your illness, and your treatment preferences. A medical power of attorney is different from a living will, which is a document that details what medical care you want and what you don't want in case you can't communicate those preferences yourself.
In some states, the previous permanent power of attorney has been replaced by an advance care directive.