In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson discusses some common misconceptions people have when it comes to living wills and why POAs are crucial.
Hi! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, proudly serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. I’d like to welcome you to our Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. We do these to help educate people, give them some little tips, and especially to let them know the questions they need to ask, things that they’ve maybe not thought of. Our thought on that is that we can help you best if you realize the things that you need help and that we can help you with. So I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
You know, I’m going to talk to you today about whether a healthcare power of attorney is the same as a living will, and as I was thinking about what I was going to say. I was going to say, I’m going to be clearing up a common misconception, but I think a need to do a series of these videos called “clearing up common misconceptions” because, frankly, one of the things I deal with as an elder law attorney is that there are a lot of things that people think are the case, that really aren’t.
Is a healthcare power of attorney the same as a living will? No, those are very different documents. What a living will does, it simply tells the world that if you are at death’s door you don’t want to be kept artificially alive. That’s it, that’s the only thing that it covers. It doesn’t give somebody the authority to make and carry out healthcare decisions for you in any other context, which is what a healthcare power of attorney does.
Let’s say we have someone with Alzheimer’s, okay, they can’t communicate with the doctor, they can’t make medical decisions, but that does not put them at death’s door. It does mean that someone is going to have to make those decisions for them. I like to, half jokingly, give the situation, let’s say that somebody with Alzheimer’s starts experiencing chest pains. Well, you know what, that could be a massive heart attack about to happen, or it could be indigestion from having one too many tacos for dinner. And if you don’t have someone to speak for that person, the doctors, who live, understandably, in fear of malpractice suits, might think that they don’t any choice but to run $20,000 worth of tests over a few days to rule out everything that’s a possibility, rather than talking to somebody, saying “well you know there are other things that we could do, but here’s what I think it probably is, so why don’t we try that first”.
So, you really, really do want to have a healthcare power of attorney in place, in addition to a living will. Thanks!
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.