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Telling Others How to Care for You If You Become Ill

There are two documents that are required by statutory law in order to allow your loved ones to institute your preferences in situations where you are seriously ill, or cannot make decisions for your own care. They are a Living Will, and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

In the creation of a Living Will, you are writing out your instructions to your loved ones for how you would like to be treated in the event you are unable to vocalize your wishes yourself. This document may address things like critical care and illnesses, what to do in the event of serious accident or injury concerning life support and feeding, and in some cases, your burial instructions in the event of your death.

Some people believe that burial instructions are best left in your Last Will and Testament, however, by the time this document is read, the arrangements have typically not only been made, but are completed. Having a complete Living Will gives your family a clear and concise plan for all of your wishes in terms of health care, death and burial.

The second document, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care deals strictly with granting the permission necessary to carry out the wishes in your Living Will; though you may also include your specific wishes in this document as well. The main purpose of this document however, is to appoint a specific person, whom you can trust, to the position of your health care trustee, or the person who will make your health care decisions for you when you are not able to do so.

Both of these documents can be drawn up for you at the office of your attorney, and it is generally a very good idea to discuss their creation with your personal attorney prior to activating them. They may of course, be revoked in writing by you at any time.