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What is the Difference Between a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney?
An equally popular option that is quite similar to living wills is the durable power of attorney (DPA). Also called the medical power of attorney, DPA is a legal document that allows a person to pick someone (a family member, a friend, or a person who knows you well) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so such as during a state of coma or mental incapacity. DPA is oftentimes considered the more powerful alternative to living wills.
A person may opt to create both documents to ensure that everything goes smoothly in the future. After all, they are allowed in most states and are not exclusive of each other. For instance, some states like California have made a standard form available that has both a will and a DPA. Most of the time, it is more advantageous to have these two documents so that the decisions not covered in one of them can be compensated by the other.
But before you go about preparing these documents, it pays to know the differences between the two. Here are some of the differences:
1. DPA allows you to assign someone to make the health care decisions for you, while a will does not. In a will, the decision all comes from the person who has signed the document.
2. Unlike living wills, DPAs does not necessarily indicate the kind of medical treatment preferred by a patient if he becomes incapacitated.
3. DPAs may include just about any health care decision. That means these documents place no restriction to permanent consciousness or terminal illness. On the other hand, living wills are limited to those two conditions.
Every state has its own laws governing living wills and DPAs—how they should be prepared, who should be the witnesses, when the document will become effective, and how the instructions will be executed. There are states that provide a standard form and require it to be notarized. Others specify the number of witnesses for the documents. If you are planning to draft your own will or DPA, make sure that you know every rule set by your state.
Aside from making an online research, you can consult a lawyer to know the legal implications of the document you are going to prepare.
With the different resources available on the Internet these days, you won’t have to break a sweat when creating a living will or a DPA. All you have to do is download the form or software, fill it out with necessary information, review your document, and you are good to go.
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