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How To Prevent Disputes About Medical Decisions

Do you know who will make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated?

You may have an idea of who you would want to handle those decisions, but have you given that person the power to make those decisions? Without a formal document, that person may not be in control not be in control of your medical decisions. Often this results in  disputes within a family over how to treat an  incapacitated loved one or relative. Many disputes are completely avoidable through livings wills and a healthcare power of attorney.

Creating living wills and determining a healthcare power of attorney are both important to your future medical decisions and who will make them, but just how different are they, and do you need both to ensure your wishes are met?


What is a healthcare Power of Attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney is a document that gives authority to the person you want to make medical decisions for you in the case that you should become incapacitated (someone you can also call a healthcare proxy). In addition, you can also set up certain provisions that the chosen proxy will have to follow when making decisions. A health care proxy will also determine any termination decisions, but these decisions can also be restricted based on your written wishes.

This entire process is extremely delicate, and while it may be appealing to use free online services, the only way you know that you are covering all bases is to work with an experienced elder law attorney.


What is a Living Will?

Living wills detail the type of medical care and treatment you wish to receive or don’t wish to receive if you cannot make your own medical decisions. This type of will can be as detailed as you need; this is where you can list out every single treatment you do or do not approve of. Considering this list contains your end-of-life wishes, it is not a document to take lightly. We advise against using any online forms or pre-made documents without consulting an attorney first.


You need both documents – here’s why.

At this point you may be thinking that either one document or the other suits your needs the best, however you should be looking at these documents as working together, not separately.

Living wills will only apply to terminal situations, whereas a healthcare proxy can make decisions inside and outside of life-sustaining treatment situations. Think about it this way, if you were only to successfully complete a living will, and you unfortunately fell into a coma or were in a vegetative state, the precautions you set out in a living will would not be valid or useful. In this situation you would need a healthcare proxy in order to make a decision regarding how to proceed.

Both documents have areas for you to go into great detail about your wishes, whether that be a complete living will or a healthcare power of attorney with certain, detailed provisions. A living will is a clear outline of YOUR exact wishes that can help a healthcare proxy carry out their decisions based on what you would have wanted although they may have more of an inclination to follow the provisions set out on the healthcare power of attorney document.


Delicate Matters Call for Great Attention to Detail

Both of these documents require time and energy to complete, as well as expertise within the field to ensure that you aren’t leaving out vital details when it comes to future decisions made about your health. There are so many conversations you need to have with your loved ones, and so many possibilities to sort through that the completion of a living will and determining a healthcare power of attorney should not be rushed.

Do not make the mistake of letting an inexperienced individual handle these documents.

It goes without saying that without either of these documents, your wishes for your health may not be met, and depending on the status of your family and loved ones, the lack of these documents could lead to arguments in a time-sensitive event. Even if you have made it known to close family and friends what your medical wishes are, you shouldn’t leave it up to chance. Take the next step to ensure those wishes will be carried out.

Let the elder law attorneys at the law office of Mulder and Freedman guide you through planning your medical wishes and needs. Call (713) 721-5657 today for an initial consultation.