What is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney?

While both documents concern your wishes for medical care (or withdrawal of care) when you can no longer give informed consent, a living will, or declaration to physicians, is limited to the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining medical procedures and feeding tubes if you have a terminal condition that is incurable and would cause your death imminently, or if you are in a persistent vegetative state that is complete and irreversible.

A health care power of attorney gives someone you trust the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. A living will can offer guidance to the person you name as your power of attorney for health care decisions, which is why we offer a document that combines a health care power of attorney with a living will. If you are able to give informed consent, rest assured that you remain in control of your health care decisions. However, if you are unable to give informed consent and you have both a health care power of attorney and a living will, the provisions of your power of attorney will supersede any conflicting provisions of your living will. In addition to our standard health care power of attorney and living will document, we offer documents that are tailored to specific faiths, such as Catholic, Lutheran, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

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