An Advance Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions both are legal documents that address your wishes with respect to future healthcare and medical treatment. However, they are two separate documents: the first states your end-of-life medical wishes; the latter authorizes a trusted individual to speak on your behalf. Thus you should have both of these legal documents as part of your estate plan.
Also called a Health Care Directive or Living Will, an Advance Directive gives your healthcare providers specific instructions about the type and extent of medical care that you want to receive at end-of-life. An Advance Directive works in conjunction with your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions to allow your designated Attorney-in-Fact to carry out the decisions that you already have made concerning your medical care. For example, you can decide whether you want to receive life-sustaining treatment or whether you want life support removed under certain circumstances.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions is a legal document in which you name another person to be your voice for the purposes of making medical decisions. This person is called your “Attorney-in-Fact” or “Health Care Agent”.  However, your designated Health Care Agent cannot speak for you unless you have become incapacitated to the point that you cannot make or express your own decisions. Your Health Care Agent is there to protect you and your wishes when you cannot protect yourself. For instance, your Health Care Agent can express your preferences for medical treatment on your behalf, communicate with your healthcare providers, and avoids the expense and court involvement of having a guardian appointed for you.
We are the Washington elder law attorneys who are here to give you the assistance that you need with the issues that predominantly affect senior citizens, including Long-Term Care planning, Estate Planning, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. No matter how complicated your situation may be, your Spokane elder law attorneys of Elder Law Group PLLC know how to best advise you of your options. We will help you create the plan that will best address your needs, based on the facts and circumstances surrounding your individual situation.