People who want to create or update their estate plan as their lives change, they may need to review a variety of instructions, wishes or types of documents. An estate plan may include far more than a will or a trust alone.

One element of estate planning that may be of particular benefit or importance to most any person is that which provides direction for a person’s medical condition or health. An advance directive and a living will provide the means by which people may lay out their choices regarding this.

Choices regarding lifesaving treatments

As explained by SmartAsset, a single accident may render a person unconscious or otherwise unable to make decisions regarding their medical care with no advance warning. An advance directive allows a person the ability to proactively indicate their preference for the use or not of any lifesaving measures. These may include feeding tubes, ventilators or other resuscitation methods.

Managing medical care

Along with an advance directive, the American Cancer Society indicates that a living will rounds out a person’s preventive actions when it comes to managing their health care needs if they cannot do so on their own behalf. A living will names another person as the entity able to and responsible to communicate with physicians and medical teams and to make choices about care and general needs.

A living will may also be referred to as a medical power of attorney or a durable power of attorney for health care. It works similarly to a durable power of attorney that allows another party to manage someone’s finances when they cannot so for themselves.