Among the confusing terms used in the estate planning industry, perhaps some of the most misunderstood involve "advanced directives." Much of the confustion is unnecessary, however.
First of all, the term "advance directives" itself generally refers to three different documents that confer authority to a decision maker or set forth one's wishes for property and health care decisions in the event of disability. These three documents are: (i) a Property Power of Attorney ("Property POA"); (ii) a Health Care Power of Attorney ("Health POA"); and (iii) a "Living Will." While the first document concerns management of one's financial assets, the latter two cover important health care decisions.
Typically each of these documents will be on a form or in a format prescribed by the laws of the State where you live or where you want to use the document. Some confusion arises because each State may refer to these documents by different names. For example, some states refer to the Property POA as a "Durable Power of Attorney" or a "General Power of Attorney." Regardless of your State's particular designation for each of these documents, the basic principles will be the same.
For more information on Property Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Powers of Attorney and Living Wills, click here