A living will speaks for you when you are unable to speak for yourself. In Ohio, living wills activate when your attending physician and another physician determine that you suffering from a terminal illness and are no longer capable of giving informed consent. The decisions to be made in a living will are deeply personal, and you should feel comfortable thinking about your options before reaching a conclusion about a particular type of treatment. Some things you may want to consider include your religious or moral beliefs, advances in medical technology, and the quality of life you want to have. While thinking about these subjects can be difficult, you should be comforted in knowing that your preparation has ensured that your medical decisions will be honored even if you cannot always express them.
A durable healthcare power of attorney, sometimes simply called a healthcare power of attorney, gives someone else the right to make decisions about your medical treatment and speak on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so yourself. It differs from a normal power of attorney in that the power does not become effective until you are no longer capable of making your own healthcare decisions. Because the healthcare power of attorney only operates when you are incapacitated—either physically or mentally—you should only give it to someone you trust.
In order to become legally effective, a durable power of attorney must comply with strict statutory requirements. Discussing the full scope of the requirements is not the purpose of this article, but you should be aware that not just any document is effective as a durable healthcare power of attorney.
After you’ve developed your advance directives and/or your durable healthcare power of attorney, you’re not done. You need to distribute copies of those documents to your power of attorney and your family doctor. You may also wish to give a copy to an additional family member or close friend. You, of course, will also want to retain copies for yourself.
Remember to keep a list of the persons to whom you have given copies of these documents. It is very common for individuals’ desires to change as they age, and if you want to make a change to one or both of these documents, you will need to send new copies to everyone.
Get the Advice You Need
Cleveland estate planning attorney Bart Leonardi understands that estate planning is about more than finances and property. That’s why he takes a more holistic approach to estate planning, offering a wide variety of advance directives to suit your individual needs. To arrange a free consultation with Cleveland estate planning attorney Bart Leonardi to discuss your options.