Power of Attorney and Living Will

In the event of an emergency, Power of Attorney and Living Will documentation are helpful to have in place. These documents protect your wishes and finances for your family.

Health Care Power of Attorney

First let’s look at what the Power of Attorney for Health Care covers:

  • This document allows you to designate a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. The person essentially becomes your defacto attorney.
  • In Ohio, a person can designate one person to be their power of attorney for health care decisions and another person to be responsible for their financial decisions.
  • The person you designate then has the authority to make all health care-related decisions for you. They can both authorize and refuse treatments.
  • Unlike a Living Will, the Health Care Power of Attorney applies to all situations where you are unable to speak for yourself and not just in the case of a terminal illness.

Living Wills

By contrast, a Living Will is used only in the case of a terminal illness or if you become permanently unconscious. A few important points to understand include:

  • A Living Will allows you to establish how you would like certain medical situations to be handled. It is a way you can communicate your wishes to a physician even when you are unable to speak for yourself.
  • You can also use a Living Will to specify what your wishes are with regard to organ and tissue donations.
  • It’s important to let your physician know once you create this document so they can be certain to honor your wishes.

This can be a confusing area of law for seniors and their families. We recommend working with a qualified attorney who understands elder law issues.

One final suggestion is to download Choices: Living Well at the End of Life. This helpful guide can help you think about and better define your wishes for future care.