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When you hear the word “will” in relation to estate planning, you probably think of a substantial document that contains numerous provisions detailing how you would like your property and assets to be divided upon your death. However, there is another type of will called the living will which is used to make clear your wishes for how you are cared for in case of medical emergency or incapacitation.

The living will is an important piece of your estate, and it can really help you in times when you aren’t even aware of your dire situation, or capable to deal with it. However, there are myriad situations that could arise as a result of a medical emergency, and it would be nearly impossible to fully plan for every conceivable medical condition that could cause you to become incapacitated. 

That’s where a healthcare power of attorney comes into play. The power of attorney is a directive that you give to someone else. That individual acts on your behalf, making decisions based on instructions you describe in the power of attorney, to hopefully get you through your medical situation.

These directives — the power of attorney and the living will — are integral parts of the estate planning world, and you should consider their benefits when putting together your estate plan. If you have questions about their use or how to properly include one in your estate plan, then you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible.

Source: FOX 8, “Advance Directives: Living Will vs. Health Care Power of Attorney,” Aug. 10, 2016