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Understanding Living Wills, Powers of Attorney and DNRs

On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP posted on Thursday, February 10, 2022.

By Richard N. Sayer, Esq.

Living Wills, Powers of Attorney and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are all legal documents that fall under the estate planning branch of the law. They are all legally-binding documents that outline your wishes with regard to your healthcare or finances should you become incapacitated. Let’s go over each one.

Living Wills

Living Wills address those situations that arise when a person is terminally ill or incapacitated. They contain personal directives on how an individual’s medical care should be managed, such as “yes” or “no” to life-sustaining efforts. Living Wills may also go into greater detail about specific treatments an individual would or would not wish to receive. For instance, one person may want to be placed on a ventilator or receive a feeding tube when a terminal illness progresses or an emergency situation arises, while another person may not.

Often, Living Wills include religious preferences regarding an individual’s care.

Living Wills are a critical component of your estate plan. They provide peace of mind, ensuring that your wishes regarding medical care and end of life directives, such as organ donation, are known and will be followed. They provide your loved ones clear directions as to your wishes, relieving them from having to make stressful decisions.

Powers of Attorney: Health Care Power of Attorney and Durable General Power of Attorney

The following Powers of Attorney are two separate documents and are critical components of a proper estate plan and must be drafted by an attorney.

A Health Care Power of Attorney names an individual of your choosing as your health care agent (usually a family member or close friend) and gives them authority to make important decisions on your behalf regarding your health and end of life care if you are not in a position to make those decisions yourself.

A Durable General Power of Attorney is for financial matters and names someone you trust to handle your financial affairs, such as selling your house or paying your bills on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated.

Do Not Resuscitate Order

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order is a document that directs health care providers NOT to engage in resuscitative measures should an individual face a potentially fatal injury or be in a coma. Medical personnel would know to avoid reviving the patient with CPR, defibrillators, and other life-saving measures. A DNR order can be a standalone document provided by a hospital or part of a Living Will.

It is wise to have a DNR order in place to provide a clear indication of an individual’s wish NOT TO BE RESUSCITATED. It provides peace of mind to family members who may be struggling in a time of emergency, not knowing what their loved one would want.

All the documents described above should be drafted by an estate planning lawyer who specializes in wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives and more.

Contact Sayer Regan & Thayer LLP for Estate Planning Assistance

Here at Sayer Regan & Thayer, we are experienced estate planning lawyers who can provide legal guidance on living wills, powers of attorney and DNRs of all kinds, customizing each document to meet the needs and goals of each client. Get your free, no-obligation consultation today when you contact us toll free at 866-378-5836. Let us protect your health and your legacy!

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

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