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Wills, Advanced Healthcare Directives (Living Wills), and Powers of Attorney

Wills

A will is used to direct the manner in which your property is distributed after your death. The document lets you control how and among which people your estate will be divided. If you do not have a will, State laws will determine and control the distribution of your assets. A will allows you to make the best arrangements for people that matter to you.

Having a will assures you that any possessions of personal value will go to the people you choose to receive them after your death. Also, if you have a minor child, you may appoint someone as his or her guardian. If you die without a will, the court will make a determination and will appoint someone, but they will not know your preference for a guardian of your minor child.

Advanced Healthcare Directive

These documents are often called "Living Wills". They are used to appoint someone that you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you were to become incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself, then you would need an Advanced Healthcare Directive to protect your wishes. The Advanced Healthcare Directive can address issues such as:

  • Consent to or refusal of life support;
  • Consent to or refusal of certain surgical procedures, medical treatment or administration of certain medications; and
  • Donating organs.

Without an Advanced Healthcare Directive, a doctor or your family may not know your wishes and may feel compelled to perform medical procedures that you did not intend to be used.

Durable Power of Attorney

In this document you may designate someone you trust to make decisions for you or to act on your behalf. The Durable Power of Attorney typically deals with financial matters, but can be tailored to fit any number of different circumstances. "Durable" means that the document will remain effective even if you become mentally or physically incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.