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Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills
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You will make many medical decisions during your life. But there may come a time when you are unable to communicate your wishes regarding your care.

A Living Will speaks for you when you are unable to. It ensures your religious and personal beliefs are respected. It spares your loved ones from making difficult, heart-wrenching decisions about your care.

Remember Terri Schiavo?

Your Living Will states what types of treatments you do or do not want, especially in cases of medical emergency or end of life decisions.

However a Living Will cannot address every scenario, so you also need a Health Care Power of Attorney. It allows the appointed person to make decisions such as which doctor to use, what type of rehabilitation is most appropriate, etc.

In some states these documents are combined into one called an Advance Directives.

Click here to access your state's Advance Directives.

Your final wishes can be written in plain English by completing the "Five Wishes" at

Many states are moving towards a Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment in lieu of Health Care Powers of Attorney. It is signed by your doctor and becomes part of your permanent medical record. Doctors are more likely to honor your wishes as they cannot be sued for following a POLST.


Caution! In many cases it makes sense for your Financial and Health Care Power of Attorney to be the same person. This person may also be a beneficiary in your Will. Although terrible it must be said, someone who has a financial interest may choose the cheapest rather than the best remedy for you.


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