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If i have a living will do i need "power of attorney" also?

Knoxville, TN |

in the state of tennessee a living will is acceptable. do i really need to have a "power of attorney" form filed out also? what if i can't afford an attorney? i don't really own anything other than a car .

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Attorney answers 5


You may not need a power of attorney (POA), but it is different than a living will. A living will states your preferences about life-prolonging care when you are terminally ill and near death, as well as preferences on organ donation, remaining at home instead of being hospitalized at the end of life, etc. A health care power of attorney appoints a person to act as your agent if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your medical care. It does not need to be, and often is not, an attorney. Rather, it should be someone who knows you well and whom you trust. Without a health care POA, your relatives would have to make these decisions - which can create problems when they don't agree. Another important type of POA is a financial POA. These appoint agents to make financial and business decisions for you and again do not need to be attorneys. These are used most often when people face mental incapacity later in life and need someone to take care of their affairs. Without a POA, the court holds a hearing in order to determine whether a guardian or conservator should be appointed to make financial and other decisions on your behalf. In that case, you are depending on the court's judgment rather than your own choice. Also, these proceedings take time and cost money.

Legal advice depends upon the particular facts of a given situation. Please use my answers as general information but not legal counsel.


The short answer to your question is no, you do not need both a living will and a durable power of attorney for healthcare (DPOAH). (I assume that is the type of power of attorney you are asking about since you mentioned already having a living will.) Most attorneys in Tennessee will recommend a DPOAH over a living will for several reasons. For example, if you have a living will and ever change your mind about what type of lifesaving measures or treatments you might or might not want, you will need to change the living will. If you had a DPOAH, you would simply need to notify the person you choose to make those decisions for you of your change of mind.

In short, every person needs a will, durable power of attorney (handles the business aspects of your life) and either a DPOAH or a living will.

Take care and best wishes!

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The other posters are correct - a living will will not give someone the authority to make medical and financial decisions for you when you are not able to. A few hundred dollars now for a POA can prevent thousands of dollars in attorney fees later when you family starts fighting over you when you are incapacitated.


Your question indicates to me that you need to do more research on your health, financial, and estate planning. Research advanced healthcare directives, these forms in basic form are available for free through many legal aid providers along with educational seminars. A power of attorney gives a person you trust the ability to make health or financial decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated, and also the duty to enforce your living will for healthcare. For your car, however, you need a simple will if you have any specific wishes. If you don't own the title yet, then you must make arrangements of survivorship with the lender to ensure transfer, otherwise the lender will own your car.


Yes. They do different things. You can often find Living Wills and POA's for free or cheap online or at "Office Stores". I think even Wal-Mart has them. Many hospitals have free Living Wills and/or Durable Powers of Attorney

Please note that my answering this question, does not in any way mean I represent you for this, or any other case. You need to seek that actual face-to-face advise of any attorney in your area who can advise you further as to your rights.