Powers of Attorney, Living Wills and Medical Directives

Powers of attorney and living wills are effective estate planning tools that can minimize the emotional trauma for your loved ones should you become incapacitated. If you’re unable to manage your financial affairs or communicate your medical wishes yourself, these documents will speak for you. The attorneys of Buchanan & Stouffer know that anything you can do to help your family understand your wishes and intentions can be exceptionally helpful during a time of stress.

Our lawyers have many decades of experience in preparing these documents. They will collaborate with you in confidential, one-on-one consultations. We understand that each client’s needs are unique. We will work with you to clearly understand both your intentions for your estate, and your wishes in the event of your incapacity.

Our attorneys will help you understand the benefits of:

Durable general powers of attorney: Often referred to as a financial power of attorney, this document grants a person (known as an agent) the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf. The role of the agent is critical in the event of an incapacitating illness, especially for investors who have individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or use online financial platforms such as PayPal or online banking. Having a durable general power of attorney in place saves a great deal of money in the event of long-term incapacity by avoiding the need for a conservatorship proceeding.

Medical power of attorney/power of attorney for health care: These documents grant a person the ability to make medical decisions for you in the event of a crisis or long-term incapacitating illness. It also includes the ability to make decisions about life support, grants full access to medical records and creates the ability to disclose medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Children who are older than 18 years must have a medical power of attorney.

Living Wills: Also referred to as advanced medical directives, living wills differ from medical powers of attorney in that they specify what should be done in the event of a terminal illness or comatose state and, in particular, with respect to life support. A medical power of attorney will grant general authority concerning life support, but if family members disagree, a living will may resolve a decisionmaking deadlock. A living will also provides greater peace of mind when making decisions about life support and other end-of-life actions.

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