• Michelle Bowman

What is the difference between a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will?

One of the frequently asked questions and the least understood by the elderly community is "Why do I need a Durable Power of Attorney for health care? I have a Living Will. When I go to the hospital, that's all they have ever asked for!" This was the case for this blogger's mother. Let's first look at the difference.


"A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to appoint a person or persons to make health care decisions if you cannot act for yourself. A Living Will simply states your wish to have certain types of care withheld or withdrawn in specific situations, such as if you have a terminal condition or are in a permanent coma. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is broader because it can apply to any condition you may have or treatment you may need." LawHelp.org/DC


Mother would tape her living will to her door ("that's for the paramedics if I lose consciousness"); she had one in her purse ("in case I'm out with my caregiver for a dental appointment"); her doctor's office had a copy; her two daughters had a copy, and for all I know, the mailman could have had a copy. Does any of this sound familiar?


After a two year struggle, she relented to a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care for my sister. This document came in handy when Mother passed away. My sister acting on Mom's wishes was able to prevent the hospital from taking steps which would have prolonged suffering by days, and yet ended up with Mother's death no matter what. As a family, we were at peace knowing we had taken the steps mother would have wanted; we had made her as comfortable as possible; and no one had to make a decision to "pull the plug." As it turned out, her Living Will did not cover the specifics of her case; the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care did.


If you need a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, I highly recommend Swain Law Firm. They did mine.

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