This next question obviously needs to be answered because it is one of the most commonly asked. I’m going to explain it as simply as possible because it is so important to really understand how these planning documents work. This is one Listen to Lawrence Letter that you should pass on to friends and family because everyone needs to know.
Can you tell us the pros and cons of just filling out a Health Care Proxy vs. completing a Living Will? Also, can you address when a person should sign a Power of Attorney? Thank you.
When it comes to making your medical decisions upon your incapacity, the Health Care Proxy (HCP) is the most important document. We have an HCP law that allows you to appoint someone to make ALL of your medical decisions (if you fill it out right).
A LIVING WILL is a document that gives your HCP agent (and your family in general) guidance as to what you may have wanted in certain circumstances. Failing to have a LIVING WILL is not critical and has no bearing on the validity of the HCP. However, giving guidance to your HCP agent is important.
For example, if your HCP agent is your daughter and she wants to “pull your plug” but your son does not want her to, this could lead to a family disaster. But when your daughter shows your son that this is what you would have wanted, in writing, in the LIVING WILL, then it often dissipates the impending family drama.
Also, please do not underestimate the psychological trauma of “pulling your mother’s plug.” This could lead to overwhelming guilt. But when your HCP agent reads your living will, and hears your voice in her head saying this is what you would have wanted, this will take her off the hook, psychologically.
This is powerful stuff. Therefore, my general advice is to execute both an HCP and a LIVING WILL.
As to your second question regarding WHEN you should execute a POWER OF ATTORNEY…this is easy…and it is the same answer with your HCP and LIVING WILL. The answer is that everyone should consider having an HCP, a LIVING WILL and a POWER OF ATTORNEY upon their 18th birthday, the day they become of legal age under the law. Talk to your children and grandchildren about this and make this part of their 18th birthday present. 😊
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives to share these informative answers to some very commonly asked questions.
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