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Do you need both a living will and power of attorney?

As you are making estate planning decisions in California, there are many things you need to consider. You not only need to think about what happens after your death, but you also need to make decisions regarding end-of-life issues. While it may be unpleasant to think about these concerns, it can save your loved ones a great deal of distress if you make these decisions now. 

According to FindLaw, a power of attorney grants someone the power to make health care decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot make those decisions for yourself. However, if you have specific wishes regarding health care directives, organ donation or similar concerns, it is to your advantage to put those wishes in a living will. The person that you designate in your power of attorney will have the ability to make wide-ranging decisions in regard to your health care, but he or she will not be able to make any decisions that contradict anything in your living will. For example, if you state in your living will that you do not want to receive dialysis, blood transfusions, respirators or other life-prolonging medical treatments at the end of your life, your power of attorney designee cannot order these treatments for you. 

If your living will takes precedence over the decisions made by your power of attorney designee, why have a power of attorney at all? Your power of attorney is in place in case a situation arises with regard to your health care that your living will does not cover. Since no one can predict the future, it is impossible to create a living will to address every possible contingency. Designating someone in a power of attorney will ensure that someone is able to make a decision if your living will provides no relevant guidance.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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