Courtesy of CaringInfo http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3285
A living will allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life.
Before your living will can guide medical decision-making two physicians must certify:
- You are unable to make medical decisions,
- You are in the medical condition specified in the state’s living will law (such as “terminal illness” or “permanent unconsciousness”),
- Other requirements also may apply, depending upon the state.
A medical power of attorney (or healthcare proxy) allows you to appoint a person you trust as your healthcare agent (or surrogate decision maker), who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Before a medical power of attorney goes into effect a person’s physician must conclude that they are unable to make their own medical decisions. In addition:
- If a person regains the ability to make decisions, the agent cannot continue to act on the person’s behalf.
- Many states have additional requirements that apply only to decisions about life-sustaining medical treatments.
- For example, before your agent can refuse a life-sustaining treatment on your behalf, a second physician may have to confirm your doctor’s assessment that you are incapable of making treatment decisions.