Q: Does a person need a healthcare power of attorney and a living will? Don't they do the same thing?  

A: Yes, a person should have both an advanced medical directive and a healthcare representative appointment. No, the two documents do not do the same thing. They can overlap, but both offer different benefits.

There are basically two types of advanced medical directive deals that deal with end of life decisions. The living will is probably the most common but its opposite is the life prolonging procedure declaration. Advanced medical directives allow the creator to provide guidance on how to handle end of life decisions and what types of care should be provided. In other words, you get to tell your family and doctors what type of care you want at the end of your life.

Healthcare powers can be part of a healthcare representative appointment (sometimes called healthcare power of attorney) or provided in a durable power of attorney. Both authorize someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make them for yourself. This includes all medical care decisions including end of life decisions (the overlap). However, they will also deal with medical decisions that don't involve end of life decisions and, rather than leaving instructions, you are appointing someone to make those decisions for you.

Q: My mom has been trying to sell her house for a while without much success. She's leaving for Florida in a couple of months and will be there all winter. She has listed my sister and I as executors in her will. If she gets an offer while she is gone, can my sister and I sell the home for her because we are executors?

 A: Unfortunately no. The fact that you are named as personal representatives in a will does not convey any authority to you during your mother's lifetime. During your mother's lifetime, her will is simply a piece of paper. An important one, but still simply a piece of paper who's affect doesn't come into effect until after her death.

Although the will won't help, your mother can execute a power of attorney and grant you and your sister the authority to handle the sale. The title company may want your mother to sign the deed herself, but that can be sent to her in Florida.  

If you want to use the power of attorney for the closing, I suggest that you notify the title insurance company sooner than later. The title insurance company will need to review the power of attorney prior to the closing and approve it. However, once it has been approved, you should be good to go.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.

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