A completed and duly signed living will should be kept in a safe location where you and your immediate family can easily get hold of it. Therefore, storing this legal document in a secured deposit box is never a good idea.
You should also inform your lawyer – if you have one, as well as your next of kin, about the existence and whereabouts of your living will. In addition, your attending physician and health care provider should be notified and instructed in making the document a part of your permanent hospital records.
Living Will Vs. Power of Attorney
A living will is activated only when death is imminent or when a patient falls in a persistent vegetative condition and has lost all faculties of communication. It only handles the application or removal of life-support measures.
On the other hand, a durable power of attorney works in a different way. It basically goes into effect when a patient becomes incapacitated to make autonomous health care determinations. However, he or she does not have to be in a vegetative state or in a near-death condition.
The power of attorney also allows a surrogate to speak in behalf of the patient and to make the necessary health care decisions. But unlike a living will, the determinations are not restricted to life-prolonging treatments. The type and extent of decisions a surrogate can make essentially depends on your preferences.
It is not compulsory to have both a power of attorney and a living will. However, if you do decide to have both, you should make sure that they don’t clash. On top of that, you should view living wills as a right and not as a privilege given only to special people.