A Power of Attorney gives someone you designate the power to act on your behalf. The individual designated as a Power of Attorney is able to manage your financial affairs. Power of Attorney typically goes into effect at the signing of the Power of Attorney document. The means the individual you designate may act immediately as your Power of Attorney, even while you are still competent.
A Durable Power of Attorney is an individual who may act on your behalf even if you become incapacitated. The language in a Durable Power of Attorney document assures that the individual you designate can perform the functions under a Power of Attorney at any time. The Durable Power of Attorney is in important part of estate or family planning, particularly when an individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder.
A Heath Care Surrogate has the power to make your medical decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to make your own decisions. A Health Care Surrogate gives someone you designate fewer powers than a Power of Attorney, as Health Care Surrogate authority is not typically in effect while you still have capacity. In other states, a Health Care Surrogate is sometimes called a Health Care Power of Attorney.
A Living Will is a statement of the types of medical care you would want to accept or refuse in the event that you become incapacitated or unable to make your own healthcare decisions. A Living Will, as the name suggests, is in effect while you are still living.
Power of Attorney, along with a Living Will and a Health Care Surrogate, can be created while you are healthy as part of estate planning. However, over time as your live situation changes, you may want to adjust the details in these documents. It is important to understand the functions of each document and how they work together to execute your wishes.