Living Will vs. Medical Power of Attorney

By Melanie Hammelman, Hammelman Law

What is the difference between a Living Will (sometimes called an Advance Medical Directive) and a Medical Power of Attorney? And which one do I need?

There is some confusion between these two documents, but some clear differences will help you understand why you need both! Rest assured, Hammelman Law includes these documents in every estate plan at no additional charge.

These are part of a complete estate plan, and having a will and/or trust without these documents is like working on a puzzle and deliberately leaving the last two pieces out because it looks “good enough.”

Living Will
A Living Will is a written statement detailing your desires regarding your medical treatment if you are incapacitated or no longer able to give informed consent.

This allows you to communicate with healthcare professionals if certain treatments you would like used/not used and helps eliminate confusion regarding your medical treatment. Healthcare professionals frequently ask for this if you are undergoing any procedures where you would receive anesthesia and will be incapacitated for at least a period of time.

Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Health Care Power of Attorney) is a legal document allowing you to designate another person to make medical decisions when you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself.

This means that anything not covered by your express wishes in the Living Will can be taken care of by the individual (or individuals) named in your Medical Power of Attorney. You can also provide guidance to the individual(s) you select as to how you might like your medical decisions decided. You can either name one individual or can name multiple individuals to act independently (either could make decisions on their own without consenting to the other), together (both would need to agree to make the decisions), or consecutively (one would be the first choice and then you would have a backup).

Hammelman Law, PLLC handles estate planning, and business law matters in Northern Virginia and Maryland. In Virginia, they are given the title of Attorney and Counselor at Law. Melanie Hammelman takes not only the title of Attorney seriously, but the title of Counselor at Law, as well.

Melanie provides her clients with advice and counseling as to the best options for an estate plan, given the specific family situation and ultimate desire for asset distribution. Learn more and connect.