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Power of Attorney vs. Living Will: What’s the Difference and Do You Need Both?

By Cory Krueger — June 12, 2017 | Share This Post

Estate planning can be an overwhelming process without the help of an attorney. Many Texans are unaware of the difference between a power of attorney and a living will – and both documents are extremely important for end of life care. To understand whether you need a power of attorney, living will, or both, you need to understand their subtle differences.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a document that assigns someone authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. However, a POA can only be applied to healthcare and financial decisions. For example, if you are injured in an accident and require medical life support, the individual appointed with your POA makes the decision regarding how long you should remain on life support. It is very important your designee understands your wishes for end of life care and is trustworthy to make financial decisions.

Living Wills

A living will does not grant anyone the authority to make decisions, whether healthcare or financial, over the writer of the will. Instead, a living will is like a set of instructions for your loved ones to follow in case you become unable to make decisions yourself. Like regular wills, living wills are final unless the writer makes changes or voids the will before they become incapacitated.

Advantages of POAs and Living Wills

There are advantages and disadvantages to both POAs and living wills. Because end of life care is not always black and white, POAs allow a trusted individual to act in the best interest of the incapacitated individual. However, ensuring your wishes are followed for end of life care with a POA rests solely on the individual in whom you place your trust.

Some individuals choose to adopt a living will because it ensures their wishes for end of life care will be followed to the letter. Because the authority granted in a POA can be a burden, a living will spares loved ones and friends from having to make difficult decisions.

POA vs. Living Will: Houston Estate Planning Attorneys

Whether or not you should adopt a POA or a living will (or both) will depend on your specific circumstances. For some, only one will be necessary, but for other people, having both will be beneficial. To determine what is best for you and your family, call the Houston estate planning lawyers at Hensley Krueger LLP today to schedule a consultation.

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