Living Wills and Healthcare Proxies Lawyer in Pittsburgh, PA
Ensure that your preferences are considered by consulting a healthcare and living will attorney
A living will (also known as an advanced directive for healthcare) and a healthcare power of attorney are important to have when you are unable to make medical decisions on your own behalf. If you want your future medical treatment to take your wishes into account, it is essential that you contact a living wills and healthcare power of attorney lawyer at Fingeret Law in Pittsburgh, PA before a medical crisis leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself.
I already have a will. Why do I need a living will?
While they sound like related documents, wills and living wills are very different legal documents used for completely different purposes. The only similarity is that both are legal tools that express your expectations for actions to be taken or withheld when you no longer have the ability to make your expectations known.
A will takes effect when you die. It provides specific directions to the person or persons you appoint to distribute your assets after your death.
A living will deals with the types of healthcare you receive to sustain your life when you are permanently unconscious or close to death. In a living will, you get to express your desires with regard to:
- Providing life-sustaining treatments
- Withholding life-sustaining treatments
- Withdrawing life-sustaining treatments that are already being provided
A living will must be written while you are competent to make independent decisions and before a life-threatening illness or injury strikes. A Fingeret Law attorney with experience in creating living wills can guide you through the types of medical circumstances that may occur in the future so that you can declare your desire for treatment, withholding of treatment or withdrawal of treatment if you are faced with any of those circumstances. In a living will, you appoint an agent to communicate to your healthcare provider the healthcare decisions you made at a time when you were competent.
If I name an agent to communicate for me, why do I need a healthcare power of attorney?
The agent named in the living will only becomes authorized to act when you are terminally ill or unconscious, and those decisions are limited to providing, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. A healthcare power of attorney written by an experienced attorney provides much broader powers.
In a healthcare power of attorney, you give authority to another person (called an agent) to make medical decisions on your behalf. You can specify whether it is limited to specific circumstances you identify or covers any medical circumstance that may arise — not just life-threatening circumstances, as is the case with a living will. You may identify what types of treatments you want to receive and what types of treatments you want withheld or withdrawn.
Both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney become effective only when you are incapacitated. While you have the capacity to make your own decisions, your agent has no authority to make decisions for you.
Contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney today
To discuss your specific needs and to find out how a healthcare power of attorney lawyer in Pittsburgh can help you, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or contact us online. We have served the Greater Pittsburgh community for more than 40 years in the practice areas of elder law, medical assistance planning, estate planning, trusts, special needs trusts and probate litigation. We travel to clients.