1. What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document by which you authorize another person to act for you.

  1. What is the purpose of a Power of Attorney?

The purpose of a Power of Attorney is to authorize someone to act for you if you are unavailable or unable to act for yourself. This is particularly helpful if you have an illness or injury that affects your ability to act for yourself.

  1. Are all Powers of Attorney the same?

No. Powers of Attorney may be very broad in scope or may be limited to a particular purpose. They may be long term or of limited duration. Many variations are possible. One of the most common Powers of Attorney is a Durable General Power of Attorney. A General Power of Attorney authorizes the named person to act for you in all matters, except health care decisions. A Durable Power of Attorney continues for as long as you live, unless you revoke it.  

  1. What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a specific type of Durable Power of Attorney which authorized the named person to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself. In Ohio and Kentucky, as in most states, there are specific statutes which set forth the requirement and key definitions for health care powers of attorney.

  1. What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a written expression of your wishes regarding life sustaining treatment, if you are ever terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

  1. If I have a Living Will do I also need a Health Care Power of Attorney?

Yes. A Health Care Power of Attorney has much broader application than a Living Will. A Health Care Power of Attorney applies whenever you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. It is NOT limited to life sustaining treatment decisions. It is not limited to someone who is terminally ill or permanently unconscious. A Living Will is limited to life sustaining treatment for someone who is terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

  1. Is a Living Will the same as a Living Trust?

No. A Living Will deals with medical matters, specifically, life sustaining treatment. A Living Trust is a business arrangement between a Settlor (or Grantor) and a Trustee for managing assets.

  1. Is a Living Will the same as a Do Not Resuscitate Order?

No. A Living Will is a general statement of your wishes regarding life sustaining treatment. A Do Not Resuscitate Order can only be executed with your doctor and is a specific statement regarding resuscitation if you stop breathing or your heart stops.

  1. At what age should I sign a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will?

As soon as you legally are able to so do. In Ohio and Kentucky, that is age 18.

  1. Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills are so morbid, do I really need to discuss them with my family?

Yes. Absolutely. Only you can make your wishes known. The more open you are in discussing these items, the less morbid they will seem. Also, it is extremely important to name individuals who will be willing and able to carry out your wishes if and when the time comes.

  1. How frequently should I review my Powers of Attorney?

At least every three to five years, and more frequently if someone you have named in your Power of Attorney is no longer available to act for you.