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The importance of living wills and powers of attorney

Both living wills and powers of attorney are vital documents for proper health care planning in Nevada. However, it is important to note that they have two distinct purposes as part of an estate plan. A living will is a document that spells out what should happen to an individual if he or she is incapacitated. It will describe what treatment he or she would like to receive as well as what type of treatment options to avoid.

A living will might also contain a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, which means that doctors or paramedics should not take steps to bring that person back to life. As a living will cannot conceive of every medical situation that an individual may be in, a durable power of attorney for health care may help fill in the gaps. The person named to this role is not allowed to go against the language already contained in the living will.

Instead, this person can make decisions about situations that an incapacitated individual didn't think of ahead of time. Anyone given power of attorney may have visitation rights as well as the ability to access a patient's medical records. He or she may also be able to defend a patient's medical wishes in court if necessary.

Those who wish to create or review an estate plan may want to talk to an attorney. A lawyer may be able to ensure that an individual has a properly designated health care power of attorney. The lawyer may also review a living will or help to create one in accordance with state law.

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