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My clients often hear how important it is to have a Living Will as part of their estate plan. If death is imminent because of a terminal condition, and a doctor certifies there is no chance of recovery, a Living Will is the document that allows you to declare if you want to be removed from life support.

This document is often confused with what is called a “Do Not Resuscitate” or “DNR.”  In Idaho, a “DNR” is actually called a “POST” Order which stands for “Physicians Order for Scope of Treatment.”

A Post Order is different from a Living Will and serves a different purpose. The most obvious difference is that a Post Order is not valid unless a qualified health care professional signs it. In contrast, a Living Will need only be signed by you.

Very few people need to have a Post Order. However, every adult should have a Living Will.

A Post Order is designed for people with an advanced chronic or end-stage illness. If that person stops breathing or no longer has a pulse, a Post Order is the document which instructs medical professionals to avoid extraordinary measures to revive that person.

In other words, where a Living Will is designed to allow you to pass on in peace, if you have passed on (i.e., your pulse has stopped), a Post Order allows your passing to continue in peace.

Post Orders address additional issues as well. For example, if you might otherwise need medical intervention, a Post Order can instruct that you only be provided comfort care (i.e., to relieve pain and suffering in the last phase of life). In this way, it is like a Living Will which always instructs for individuals to receive comfort care when they are removed from life support.

A Will does not address all the important end of life decisions every adult should consider. Come to a free presentation and learn a simple process to address the issues that should be part of your estate plan.