Both a living will and a power of attorney can be used to assist in planning for your future healthcare needs. Some people opt to cover all their bases by using both, while others will rely primarily on advance directives like a living will.
There are some benefits, however, to using a power of attorney instead of merely leaving a list of directions to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself. Learn more about the benefits of having a well-chosen power of attorney for medical decisions in place below.
The flexibility of a power of attorney
One benefit of a medical power of attorney lies in its flexibility. No one knows exactly what the future holds. You can’t predict everything that may come to pass, and a written directive can easily contain gaps in information that can be problematic in a fluid situation. Your agent has the ability to react to changing circumstances as they make your medical decisions.
Less need to rely on a doctor’s interpretation
A written directive telling healthcare professionals can sometimes have vague clauses that are open to a doctor’s interpretation. Are you rejecting all types of life support? Did you not know about a new treatment option when you made the document? With a power of attorney, your agent or proxy makes the decisions and instructs the doctors how to proceed. If your health care proxy is clear about your wishes, that can be a big advantage over a written document.
There’s less uncertainty for your loved ones
While a power of attorney may put more pressure on a loved one, it also means they do not feel like the situation is entirely out of their hands — which can happen if the doctors are left in complete control of your medical care. Also, having frank discussions about your health care concerns and wishes can make it easier for your medical proxy to withstand pressure to do something you don’t want by either the medical staff or other family members.
Estate planning is complex, and it’s about far more than just wills and trusts. You have many options. Be sure you consider them all carefully. Working with an experienced advocate can help you better understand the possibilities.