Power of Attorney vs Living Will: What’s the Difference?

August 9, 2020

During these difficult times we’re all experiencing, HereToday has received several questions from the community about medical directives and legal preparation guidance. As such, we’ve prepared a simple overview of the differences between a medical power of attorney and a living will. HereToday is not a legal service, please seek professional advice when making any decision about your medical and legal documents. 

Medical and technological advances have improved our quality of life and increased life expectancies; in doing so, these advancements give us more time to spend with our loved ones. Let’s use this time to prepare our families for the inevitable end of life issues that will arise. A well-prepared power of attorney or living will can provide guidance to your loved ones should you need their care. While both documents enforce the wishes of an individual during incapacitation, which solution is best for you or your family’s situation? Below is a brief examination of the differences between these documents.

Power of Attorney

Let’s start by exploring the power of attorney (POA) option. A POA is a legal document that gives one person, an agent or an attorney-of-fact, authorization to act on your behalf when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. A designated agent will have clearly defined authority to make legal decisions about your medical care, property, or finances, among other items. The POA is often used in the event of an illness or disability, or when you can’t be present to sign a legal document. 

Living Will

Often referred to as an advance medical directive, a living will is an instruction guide typically requested prior to care procedures. A hospital or a care unit’s medical staff will follow these instructions should you become incapacitated or unable to direct your own medical care preference. A common use case of a living will is providing instructions on the use of life support; specifically, your directive will let loved ones know your wishes if you’re no longer able to express them on your own. 

Which document is best for you?

Your decision about which document to use depends on what you want to accomplish. A power of attorney could be used for a variety of different purposes, such as empowering your agent to make financial decisions, control financial assets, or buy and sell property during a period of incapacity. A living will solely directs your level of care wishes to your medical team. There are several quality resources that can help prepare a Living Will or Power of Attorney, including Nolo, LegalZoom, RocketLawyer, and LegalShield and more.

HereToday – Advance Directives Vault

If you become incapacitated, an authorized individual can request access to your living will (advance directive), power of attorney, or health care proxy. When uploading documents to the Advance Directives Vault, use the Share tool to assign files to an executor and family members. This vault is released when an authorized individual validates their need to access your account.

HereToday helps family members access important digital records, accounts, and memories when someone becomes incapacitated or passes away. Prepare your family and loved ones for when the occasion arrives. 


Disclaimer. HereToday is not a legal service. This content should not be taken as legal advice. Before drafting any legal document, please consult an attorney.

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