What are Advance Directives for Health Care/Living Wills?
An Advance Directive (also called a Power of Attorney for Health Care) allows the person signing the document to choose an agent or agents who they trust to make medical decisions for them in the event they do not have the capacity or are unable to communicate with the health care providers. Using this document, a person can give directions about future medical care and designate another person to make medical decisions if that person is unable. A Living Will is a separate component of this document and allows the Principal (person signing the document) to decide if they want to continue to receive artificial nutrition and hydration at the end of life. This document also allows you to nominate an agent in the event of crisis, thereby avoiding the need for a Guardianship in most cases, which is a legal proceeding in which the Court would have to appoint someone to make the medical decisions for you if you are unable.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes is different than the Health Care Advance Directives in that it deals with financial matters rather than health matters. This document also allows a person to appoint an agent who could temporarily or permanently step in to manage their financial affairs if the Principal (person signing the document) is unable to do so or no longer wants to manage their own financial affairs. The NH Power of Attorney Act and the form have recently been updated. This document also may alleviate the need for a legal guardian over your estate, which is a court proceeding, should you become unable to manage your financial affairs.