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On the power of attorney and the living will

Many people in Denver have probably heard the phrases "power of attorney" and "living will" before, but they may not known exactly what these phrases mean. For example, some people may think that a "living will" is the same as a "will," or that the "power of attorney" must be given to someone who is, well, an attorney.

However, both of these things aren't true. A living will doesn't have anything to do with distributing property (like a regular will does). Instead, the living will states how the testator wants to be treated and cared for (or not to be treated or cared for) in case of a medical emergency. So, for example, a person could include in their living will a stipulation that says "I want to be kept on life support if condition X or disease Y afflicts me."

Now this leads to an obvious question: with the living will, how could you possibly cover every conceivable medical situation that could arise? The answer is: you can't. And that's where the power of attorney comes in. Someone who has your power of attorney would make the tough decisions for you should that situation not be explicitly addressed in your living will.

This means that the person who holds your power of attorney should be someone that you trust, and it needs to be someone responsible. The living will and the power of attorney are two incredibly important aspects to planning the latter stages of your life, so plan accordingly.

Source: FindLaw, "The Power of Attorney, Living Will and Your Healthcare," Accessed Oct. 21, 2015

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