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Advance Directives

Living Will
A living will is the written expression of how an individual wishes to be treated in certain medical conditions. Depending on state law, this document may permit individuals to express life-sustaining treatments in the event of terminal illness or injury, to decide in advance whether an individual wishes to be provided food and water via intravenous devices ("tube feeding"), and to give other medical directions that impact the end of life.  A living will applies in situations where the decision to use such treatments may prolong life for a limited period of time and not obtaining such treatment would result in death.

Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney (also known as a durable power of attorney for health care) allows a designated person to make health care decisions on another individual’s behalf.  

The person named as medical power of attorney helps doctors determine when life-supporting measures should be stopped. If an individual’s wish is to not use life-sustaining measures, that can be conveyed to the medical power of attorney selected, and that individual will be able to fulfill those wishes. A medical power of attorney only has this responsibility for health care decisions and cannot make financial or other decisions.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney
A durable financial power of attorney can act on a person's behalf, even while that person is still alive. People suffering from dementia or senility, who are no longer competent to make their own decisions, need to have someone they trust to continue to make financial and medical transactions long after they have the capacity to do so. A durable power of attorney appoints that trusted individual to make those decisions and avoids the costly and sometimes painful experience of a guardianship process (sometimes referred to as “living probate”).

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