Elder Law Minute: Living Will Vs. Healthcare Power of Attorney

Wes Coulson talks about the difference between a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. A living will only discusses the issue of end-of-life treatment. A healthcare power of attorney is more comprehensive and covers any situation in which a medical decision needs to be made for you, and you can’t make that decision personally.

Hi, I’m Wes Coulson and this is your Elder Law Minute. One of the things that people get confused is the difference between a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. A lot of people think they’re two names for the same thing. They’re really not.

A living will only discusses the issue of end-of-life treatment – what you do want done, what you don’t want done.  A healthcare power of attorney covers a lot more situations. It covers any situation in which a medical decision needs to be made for you, and you’re not able to make that personally. Let’s say you have Alzheimer’s and a question is raised as to whether you should have surgery for something. That’s not something you can discuss. It doesn’t mean you’re about to die, but somebody needs to help you make that decision. If you don’t have a healthcare power of attorney, you really need to get one. It’s a really important document. Thanks!