Powers of attorney or a living will, how are they different?

When going through the estate planning process, Michigan residents may come upon a number of documents that seem to serve the same purpose. However, each document is different and created for very specific reasons. Failing to utilize the various legal documents can leave one unprotected. Powers of attorney and living wills are great examples of this. Many believe they do the same thing, but in all reality they serve separate purposes.

When powers of attorney are granted, it means that one has designated a person or persons to make important financial and/or medical decisions for him or her in the event of incapacitation. This person has to act within reason. These powers are not unlimited.

A living will, on the other hand, is a type of advance directive. It provides instructions for one's personal representative -- if one is named -- to follow. This is a way of ensuring one's wishes are known and carried out.

It is possible to have a living will and not powers of attorney or vice versa. However, without powers of attorney, decision making powers could be granted to whomever a judge deems fit. Without a living will, whomever is named as a personal representative will have to wing it -- so to speak -- and hope that he or she is making decisions with which one would agree.

At the end of the day, neither of these documents can replace the other; instead, they work hand in hand. Residents of Michigan who are going through the estate planning process and need more information about these documents and their benefits can turn to an experienced attorney for assistance. By seeking guidance from legal counsel, one can ensure that nothing of importance is left out of his or her estate plan.

Source: agingcare.com, "What is the difference between Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney?", Marlo Sollitto, Accessed on June 28, 2017