While hopefully we’ll never need them, an enduring power of attorney and advance health directive are vitally important estate planning documents. Why leave yourself and your family unprotected?
So what are they? In this article we’ll be taking a look at Advance Health Directives and Enduring Powers of Attorney, how they are alike and how they differ.
Both documents are designed to only take effect in the event you are no longer capable of making decisions for yourself. This could be because of a degenerative disease or mental illness, or because you are in a coma or similar state.
Power of Attorney
An enduring power of attorney appoints another person to make decisions on your behalf. This can be for personal matters such as who you live with and consent to particular types of health care, financial matters such as how your money is invested or both. You can appoint different attorneys for personal and financial matters and more than one for each. You can limit the power to certain decisions and specify how the attorney is to act (however the default position is that the power is not limited, other than by law).
Advance Health Directive
On the other hand, the purpose of an Advance Health Directive is to enable you to make various decisions now in respect of possible future health care and treatment (as apposed to appointing another person to make these for you). You can specify any treatments you don’t want to receive, who should and shouldn’t be notified about your treatment, whether surgery should be performed and what kind of treatment you would like were you to end up in a coma, vegetative state or the terminal phase of an incurable illness. These are just some of the examples of the choices that can be made in an Advance Health Directive.
An Advance Health Directive actually includes an Enduring Power of Attorney but perhaps unhelpfully this only extends to personal matters. You will still need to complete a separate Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters in order to be fully protected.
It is important to note that there are a number of health matters over which an attorney does not have power to made decisions but which can be dealt with in an Advance Health Directive.
We recommend that everyone therefore has an Enduring Power of Attorney for both personal and financial matters and completes an Advance Health Directive to give directions about what kind of medical treatments they might want in the future. This provides the highest level of protection for yourself and may avoid further heartache and cost for your family down the track.
For an obligation free chat about Advance Health Directives, Enduring Powers of Attorney or any other estate planning matter, please get in touch.
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