Too often when people think of estate planning, they think only of writing their will, but really estate planning should include Advance Directives, the Living Will, Durable Powers of Attorney, and in some cases the “Physicians Order for Scope of Treatment” or POST. Completion of the Advance Directive (AD) is not just a quick add on in the Estate Planning process. Arguably, decisions made for your Advance Directive can be more important than your Will since your Will only takes effect after your death while the AD can have important consequences while you’re alive.

Wills vs POST

The Living Will and the POST may seem similar, but they are quite different in important ways. Every person, whether healthy or not, should have a Living Will. It provides general directions about end of life treatment for a person who is noncommunicative and terminally ill. A perfectly healthy person could unexpectedly have a medical emergency and have need of a Living Will. The POST is only for people who are very frail and approaching end of life care. The POST is an order restricting treatment for a person who knows how they will likely die. A strong healthy person should never have a POST as it may preclude life saving treatments. The Living Will and the POST are similar but dangerously different. This video dramatization portrays the correct use of the POLST:

Seek Professional Help

Generic versions of many of these forms are available online for free or very low cost. However, it is highly advisable to seek guidance from an elder law attorney. A professional can help you tailor these documents to match your values rather than trying to find a “one size fits all” form. These decisions should be discussed with family and friends. Take the time to make the right choice. Should you have questions about these issues, contact McCool Law at 208-963-8100.