So what’s the difference between a living will and a medical power of attorney? Depending on how your medical power of attorney is written there can possibly be some overlap between the two. And this sometimes confuses people. But even if there is some overlap you should really have both of them in place for estate planning purposes.
A living will is much narrower in scope than a medical power of attorney. It only concerns situations where you are terminally ill or have an irreversible condition and you are unable to communicate with you doctor as to whether or not you would like life-sustaining treatments to be continued. Again, these are pretty narrow circumstances.
A medical power of attorney in turn is broader in scope. It covers all healthcare decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated, whether or not you are terminally ill or have an irreversible condition. Likewise, if you want to appoint someone in particular to make medical decisions for you when/if you become incapacitated then it should be done in a medical power of attorney.
But even though it may seem like a medical power of attorney covers all your bases in these difficult medical situations, it’s still best to have both documents in place. Because if you were ever unfortunate enough to become so sick and/or injured that you could not possibly recover and could not communicate what kind of treatment you’d prefer, then it really is best to have those wishes spelled out in a document specifically designed for those narrow and harrowing circumstances.
And at the same time you still should have a medical power of attorney to also help take care of those possible situations where you are incapacitated but not terminally ill or with an irreversible condition. You really should have as many of your bases covered as possible when it comes to the potential need for someone to make medical decisions for you, and having both of these documents in place helps you do that.