Estate planning and durable power of attorney

What is the difference between a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care decisions?

I am working on a revocable living trust estate plan in the state of California, and I would like to know if it is necessary to have a living will and durable power of attorney for health care decisions included in the estate plan. It seems like a lot of the information I place in the living will can be referenced to in the durable power of attorney for health care decisions. What is the primary importance of a durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions in addition to the living will?

Nathan’s Answer

A durable power of attorney for health care allows someone you trust to direct your health care wishes should you be incapacitated. A living will sets out the medical treatment you are willing to accept or decline should you become incapacitated. California combines both of these into an advance health care directive. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) supplements advance health care directives. POLST deals with current treatment needs while "advance" health care directives deal with future desires in regards to treatment.

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