Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney contain healthcare directives in the event that you become incapacitated. The effective date and the powers granted to your agent may vary.

What you’ll discover:

Differences and similarities
Is it possible to have both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney?
Who should you choose as your agent for healthcare power of attorney?

The majority of people understand that an estate plan starts with a final will and testament. Other papers, however, should be considered to ensure that your preferences are known. A living will and a durable healthcare power of attorney are two examples of such legal papers. Although both are about medical choices, there are several key differences you should be aware of before making either.


A living will as well as a durable healthcare directive POA allows you to appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. To create any document, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. That means no one may force you to create a living will or a healthcare power of attorney.


A living will is used to proclaim your intention not to have life-prolonging procedures performed if there is no possibility of recovery, such as in the case of brain dead or terminal disease.

A durable power of attorney for healthcare, on the other hand, covers all medical choices and is only valid for as long as you are unable to make them for yourself. However, you may include specific provisions in the Power of Attorney that instruct your agent on how to handle deathbed situations.

Is it possible to have both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney?

Yes. Because a living will often addresses very specific problems like as “DNR” (or “do not resuscitate”), it may not address other critical medical concerns you may have. Some persons, for example, may choose to decline dialysis or blood transfusions, and such concerns might be expressly stated in a healthcare power of attorney.

Who should you choose as your agent for healthcare power of attorney?

Someone you have faith in. It is critical that your agent works on your behalf in line with your instructions. You should probably sit down with your agent and vocally specify what you want done in specific situations. As a result, your agent will hear it straight from you and will not be startled when asked to make choices on your behalf. More information may be found at “How to Choose an Agent for Your Power of Attorney.”

It is typically advised that your estate plan be as complete as possible, so consider drafting a living will and a power of attorney. For additional information, please see our power of attorney center or estate planning page. We can also assist you in contacting a lawyer if you have any queries.

Additional forms of power of attorney:

What exactly is a power of attorney?
What exactly is a lasting power of attorney?
What is a revocable power of attorney?
What if you don’t have a durable power of attorney?
Center for Power of Attorney

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