When it comes time to plan for end-of-life measures, many people become confused about what may be needed while they are still alive, especially if they become incapacitated. Both health care directives and powers of attorney are tools that can be useful if you lose the ability to manage your own affairs and/or make your own decisions, but they must be adequately understood in order to use them effectively.

Renton Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is intended for those who are unable to manage their day-to-day affairs, especially financial in nature, but its powers may run the gamut. Depending on the specific language, a power of attorney may come into use at any point in a person’s life, including allowing the agent to make medical decisions on one’s behalf. Be advised that Washington law does not overtly restrict the pool of people from which you can choose your attorney-in-fact, but certain people are barred from the position unless they are also your close family: namely, physicians or their employees who care for the principal, or employees of the healthcare facility in which that care occurs.

What Are Healthcare Directives?

Healthcare directives, also called living wills, are used for decisions that need to be made by an agent when you might not be able to make them for yourself. A living will is a document that governs and articulates your wishes regarding interventions to prolong life, such as cardiac intubation or life support equipment even after brain death. It may also set out preferences regarding pain relief, body disposition, and other issues. A valid directive in Washington State must be signed by the declarant in front of at least two witnesses, neither of whom can be (1) family by blood or marriage; or (2) in line to receive any part of any bequest in the will.

Given the varied questions and issues that both documents cover, it is generally recommended that a person execute both documents, to ensure that no question is left unanswered. It is not strictly necessary – a power of attorney may, in theory, contain the authority to make such medical decisions – but the person with authority may not be aware of your specific preferences or intentions for issues like disposition of your body. To ensure your wishes are obeyed, it is a good idea to have both in your proverbial back pocket.

Contact A Renton Estate Planning Attorney

If you are at a point in your life where you are beginning to consider your wishes for end-of-life care, speaking to an experienced attorney can ease your mind considerably. Dan Kellogg, theRenton estate planning attorney, will sit down with you and work with you to make sure that your preferences are articulated clearly, to ensure a greater chance of them being respected. Contact the office at 425-227-8700 to set up an initial consultation.