Both types of legal documents fulfill an interrelated role in allowing an individual to define the medical care that he or she wants to receive should it become impossible to make or communicate decisions on one’s own.
The living will is a written statement that sets out the type of medical care desired, with preferences often reflecting moral and religious beliefs, and is focused on end of life care. There is no relationship between this document and a living trust or conventional will, which arrange the transfer of assets to heirs and beneficiaries at death.
The durable power of attorney for health care is used to set up the health care agent, who is often a relative or a trusted third-party, such as a fiduciary. Acting as a proxy, the designated agent is able to make necessary health care decisions on the individual’s behalf, reflecting the wishes laid out in the living will. Together, these documents are essential in ensuring a seamless continuum of care throughout the end of life process