All adults should have a Durable General Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances), a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, (sometimes called a Health Care Proxy) and an Advance Directive to Physicians (or Living Will). Some people should also have a POLST – Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.

Durable General Power Of Attorney

This document, sometimes called a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, names a person to handle your financial affairs if you are incapacitated. You are the “principal” and the person you name is the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” In order to execute a Durable Power of Attorney, you must have legal capacity to understand the document you are signing. The document can either be effective immediately, or when you become incapacitated, as designated by one or more physicians. It is important to name someone you trust. There are professionals who can serve in this role if someone does not have a family member who is suitable.

Durable Power Of Attorney For Health Care Decisions

Sometimes called a “Health Care Proxy”, this document authorizes your designated agent to have access to medical information, to exchange information with your health care providers, and to make decisions about your medical treatment, housing, or personal care in the event you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

Advance Health Care Directive (Living Will)

This document indicates what types of treatment you would like to receive or decline if you are terminally ill or in a permanent vegetative state. It must be signed and witnessed by two unrelated individuals. This document gives instructions and direction to the person you have chosen to be your health care agent. Some Advance Directive Forms will include a designation of a health care agent for end-of-life decisions.

Physician’s Orders For Life Sustaining Treatment (Polst)

This form replaces the form known as “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)”. It is intended for anyone of advanced age or anyone diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It goes beyond instructions regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and includes medical interventions, use of antibiotics, and artificial nutrition or hydration. The form is obtained from and filled out with your physician, and must be signed by the physician to be in force. The lime green original then stays with the patient. Emergency medical personnel can obey the directions in a POLST, because it is a medical order.