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Living Wills & Medical Powers of Attorney

Your health care directives—including your living will and power of attorney (POA) for health care—might be the most important estate planning documents you ever make. Giving your family clear, written direction about your end-of-life wishes can spare them anguish—and make sure you get the kind of care you want. With these documents, you can set out the kinds of treatment you want, or don't want, and name someone who will make sure your wishes are honored even if you can't speak for yourself.

Some documents, such as Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders and POLST orders, are used in more limited situations, usually emergencies. You may want to make one if you are concerned about end-of-life care.

Without guidance from you in these legal documents, family members and health care providers can easily become uncertain about treatment decisions. And when family members disagree about what course to follow, the consequences are sometimes rifts that are never resolved.

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