The Difference Between a POA, Durable POA and Living Will

Planning for the future from a legal and financial perspective can be confusing and overwhelming. There are many documents that should be put in place, but sometimes caregivers and their elderly parents don't understand the terms that are used, or what each document is for.

Definitions of the different types of legal documents

Living Will

Describes and instructs how the person wants end-of-life health care managed. A living will is one type of advance directive. It takes effect when the patient is terminally ill.

Advance Directives

Written instructions about future medical care should your parent become unable to make decisions (for example, unconscious or too ill to communicate). These are also called healthcare directives.

Durable Power of Attorney

POA for healthcare 
Gives a designated person the authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the person.

POA for finances
Gives a designated person the authority to make legal/financial decisions on behalf of the person.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form

Instructs health care professionals not to perform CPR in case of stopped heart or stopped breathing.


Indicates how a person's assets and estate will be distributed among beneficiaries after his/her death.

Living Trust

Gives a designated person (trustee) the authority to hold and distribute property and funds. 

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