If you are working with a probate attorney to complete all of your legal documents, you probably have a lot of legal terms running through your head. From wills, medical powers of attorney, and estate planning, there are many things to think about and consider. However, it can be difficult to really understand the differences between these documents and what each one is used for. If you don’t understand the differences, take a moment to discuss them with a probate attorney.

What is a do not resuscitate order? Do you need a probate attorney?

In many cases, no matter why you are in the hospital, they may ask about your wishes. If you do not want extreme measures to save lives, you will be asked to sign a do not resuscitate order. This will not require the help of a probate attorney and can only be valid during that specific hospital visit. If you have signed a DNR order at the hospital, your friends or family must comply with your wishes.

What purpose do living wills provide?

Living wills are legally binding documents that spell out your wishes if you are ever unable to make health care decisions for yourself. There are several different scenarios that your attorney wants you to consider, including what happens if:
He can not eat or drink. Do you want them to provide you with nutrition and hydration?
You cannot breathe on your own. Do you want a respirator put on you?
Your kidneys stop working. Do you want to undergo artificial dialysis?
Your heart stops beating. Do you want a defibrillator or CPR to be used to get your heart started again?

Sometimes you may hear living wills referred to as advance health care directives. These advanced healthcare directives attempt to cover some of the more common situations, but cannot consider all possible scenarios, so having a medical POA in place is also important.

What purpose does a medical POA serve?

If you are suddenly incapacitated and your legal documents don’t cover your situation, what happens? Generally, your family members automatically make decisions about your health care. However, what if your two children fight over the kind of care they think they should receive? This can be a stressful time even for close families.

This is where a medical POA can help. With this document, you and your attorney will designate a person to make decisions regarding your medical care. Before selecting this person, it is important that you have a conversation with them about your wishes. Your family member is not required to follow up on your requests, but it can certainly help if they know your preferences.

Working with a probate attorney to develop medical wills and POAs is one of the kindest things you can do for your family members. While no one wants to think about becoming incapacitated or hospitalized, having these documents prepared in advance can reduce stress for your family members.

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