Home » health » DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney How And Why

This is a fun topic for a Monday right!? Seriously though, DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney legal forms can be confusing. Yet as we get older we need to consider them. If not for ourselves, for our own parents who are aging.

My research has proven that there is no singular set in stone form for any of these. I thought for sure there would be. Considering the importance of such forms one would think that there would be one legal document. Or at least one legal document for each state.

I have looked at tons of documents from the most basic to the most elaborate. What I have discovered is that I pretty much want to create my own.

First, let’s discuss why you would consider each form.

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Note: I am not a medical doctor, nurse, or any kind of medical expert. I am also not a lawyer. This information is based on my own research and experiences. Please discuss these forms with your own medical practitioner and lawyer. 

DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney The Basics:

DNR or Do Not Resuscitate:

Simply put a DNR means if you are in need of any form of resuscitation such as CPR.

This is a form that has to be prepared prior to an emergency that would require CPR or other forms of resuscitation.

You can obtain them online or from your doctor.

If you obtain one online your primary care doctor should have a copy on file as well.

They do need to be notarized if not signed by your doctor.

I have found both types of forms online.

The kind that requires your doctor sign them and the kind that does not require this but does need to be notarized.

To me, it just makes sense to go for the one your doctor is directly involved in.

Durable Power Of Attorney:

This document gives power to a designed person or people to make medical care decisions for you should you be unable to do so for yourself.

This is important should you become mentally or medically unable to make sound decisions or any decisions at all.

By having a Durable Power of Attorney you are allowing another person to make not only medical decisions for you but also decisions that may impact financial decisions for you and your family.

My experience is that this form is the simplest of all.

It is very clear what you are singing which is nice.

You are allowed on some forms to assign only one person while other forms allow for alternates.

I prefer the later as my mother is my POA but as she is older than myself it allows others to make these decisions should she be unable if something happens to me.

This form does have to be notarized.

Living Will:

Living Wills have nothing to do with your belongings, your business, or money.

A Living Will is for the sole purpose of appointing someone to make medical care decisions for you.

It’s similar to a DNR except it goes well beyond resuscitation.

The Living Will outlines specific medical instructions to be applied if you are alive but are unable to communicate your wishes for yourself.

Such as if you are on a ventilator or receiving tube feeding to be kept alive.

Again there are various versions of this form available online.

I prefer the forms that allow for more personalization such as check boxes for things I would or would not want done to preserve my life.

This form also should be notarized.

All Of Your Forms, DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney should be on file with your primary care physician.

Now, let’s discuss the pros and cons of DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney:


A DNR is often considered by those with an end of life condition.

If you do not want your life prolonged and have specified so in a living will.

DNRs are good if you are already in a delicate physical state, such as many elderly people are.

Due to the extreme force often necessary in CPR it is possible for damage to the body, including broken ribs or collapsed lungs.

This means if you or your loved one are already in a fragile state, resuscitation may just do more harm than good.

Each person is different so an open and honest talk with your doctor is key to deciding if this is best for you or not.

Sometimes religious beliefs come into play with a DNR.

Also please discuss this with your doctor.

From my understanding, some doctors may not be okay with a DNR.

In these situations, you may be referred to a doctor who is alright with you having a DNR on file.

When it comes to any of the forms, DNR, Living Will, and Durable Power Of Attorney, be sure that your form is legal in your state.

In some states, witnesses or a notary public must also watch you sign the form.

Durable Power Of Attorney:

Again this form is to me, the most straightforward.

You do want to be sure that the person you put as your POA knows your wishes and reads the form.

They must agree and adhere to what you outline in this form.

If there is an issue for that individual it is best to find someone else as your POA.

If you do not have a POA the courts can get involved.

This can be time-consuming and upsetting to your family.

Rocket Lawyer, who I am not affiliated with has a helpful article on POA and the risks of not having one.

When the courts appoint your POA they may not make the best decision.

You may not wish for your next-of-kin to make these choices for you if your beliefs are not well aligned.

Only you know who is best fit to make your medical decisions for you when you can not do so for yourself.

As with the other forms you can find various formats online.

My mothers are slightly different from my own.

I prefer the forms that allow me to personalize them a bit more.

And once again, as stated above: 

When it comes to any of the forms, DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney, be sure that your form is legal in your state.

In some states, witnesses or a notary public must also watch you sign the form.

Living Will:

Legal Zoom, again, no affiliation, has a wonderful outline of what is in a living will.

Now where I have found some confusion is the difference between a living will and an advanced directive.

It all comes down to the form that you use.

Some forms are more to the point and really only cover the basics.

These are what I was calling the Living Will.

That was until I learned more about it!

An Advanced Directive seemed to get into far more detail and allows you to customize your wishes better.

Yet, they truly are one in the same!

Doing your own research for forms online can get totally bewildering!

When I did my search I found some misleading information about Living Wills and Advanced Directives that made me feel they were different forms.

I even found a Living Will that I could have notarized but it was so basic it worried me.

Personally, I think we want options and control.

The form I chose to utilize allows me to fill out optional additional instructions that I feel should never be optional!

An example of these “options” are if I would allow a ventilator to be used, if I want a feeding tube in place and if I am alright with antibiotics being used.

Remember, this form is for when you are personally unable to make your own medical decisions.

I would hate for my loved ones to have to make these choices without some guidance from me.

Why burden them with these decisions when we can make them for ourselves in advance.

No, these choices are not easy for us to make for ourselves, so imagine the stress it could put upon your loved ones.

Not only are these choices emptional ones for your family but they can be expensive choices too.

Modern Medicine And DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney:

With the advances in modern medicine, many lives can be prolonged indefinitely.

By supplying our bodies with food and water, or breathing tubes, for example, we can “live” forever.

How long do you want your life prolonged if you will be in a state of unconsciousness indefinitely or forever?

To what expense for your loved ones?

What if we have been put into a coma?

Sometimes that is done for good reason, and with a little time, we can naturally heal.

Other times, it is done because there is no other answer for us medically.

Sure, we all wish and hope for some miracle to be discovered to pull us out our state of unconsciousness and heal us.

The Living Will, along with an Advanced Directive allows you to specify what circumstances if any you wish for your life to be prolonged.

DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney Which Is Most Important?

In my opinion, and again I am by no means a doctor or a lawyer, but I think the first form to complete would be the Durable Power Of Attorney.

My thoughts behind this are that at least one person, along with an alternate, should be given the power to make these vital calls.

Now, if you or a loved one have a frail condition a DNR may be your first choice.

Especially if you or that loved one has strong feelings against resuscitation.

Yet, a Living Will with Advanced Directive will assist your loved ones in making tough calls regarding everything.

So as you can see, they are all very valuable and necessary!

With the Durable Power of Attorney, however, someone is at least authorized to make the choices for you.

The Living Will and Advanced Directive empower that person to make those choices based on your own wishes.

That helps them feel good about what they allow the medical professionals to do.

It takes away any feelings of guilt or shame from what they allow.

Where To Begin With It Comes To DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney:

If you have a family lawyer I would start there.

In a case where you do not, I highly advise using a site such as Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer.

Doing my own research has been time-consuming and tiresome, not to mention confusing.

I called Legal Zoom and their representative was so helpful answering my questions.

Be sure whoever you choose as your POA, and the person or people designated to make your decisions is alright with what you have outlined on your forms.

Once you have your forms properly filled out, notarized when needed, be sure your doctor has them on file.

Give copies to those who are going to be making the decisions for you, such as whoever you listed as your POA.

We are all different.

Different in our beliefs, our fears, our medical conditions, and desires.

Never feel bad for how you want your forms to read!

A family lawyer or one of the site’s representatives listed above can help you with questions you may have.

In some cases, you may wish for your Advanced Directive to stipulate something very unique.

Such as if you are pregnant and need to be placed on life support.

Most women reading my blog would not face this issue as we are midlife women.

However, you may be younger and have come across this article from a web search.

An Advanced Directive, in fact, can make such specific stipulations, however, they may or may not be legal depending on your state.

You see, this is why these forms are really not best to be DIY projects.

According to Legal Zoom:

“Most state laws will not let you (or someone acting on your behalf) refuse life-extending medical procedures if you are pregnant. In such cases, your living will can be disregarded, unless there is no chance the fetus will survive.”

Now granted, this is just one of the many stipulations.

You can opt to attempt making but having it in your Living Will is better than not!

Even if not legal in your state, laws can change.

Having things clearly lined out can give your POA the power he or she needs to follow through on your wishes!

Moral Of This Article:

Get your DNR, Living Will, and Durable Power Of Attorney completed and be sure to do it correctly.

Again, I am not a lawyer or medical professional but I do highly recommend you get a lawyer to help you with your forms and be sure your doctor has copies of them on file.

I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Do you have your DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney completed?

What advice would you give your loved ones about DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney?

Did you do your forms on your own?

Did you use a lawyer, online resource or your doctor for assistance?

Have you not yet completed your forms but are considering it?

What did you learn from this article or do you have anything to add that I may have missed?

If you liked this article check out more from the Health and Wellbeing Section! 

DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney How And Why



  1. June 18, 2018 / 11:57 am

    It is so important to have these things in place. You never know when you’ll need them. My husband and I only recently started getting all our ducks in a row on these subjects.

    • June 19, 2018 / 12:18 pm

      It has taken me forever and I am still working on one of them. I am just glad to finally have them figured out enough to get it done.

  2. June 18, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    These are important to have! I know my parents have these, plus my Nana Jo, who is 97. My husband and I have a will, but we do need to update it!

    • June 19, 2018 / 12:19 pm

      Oh yes – that is one thing I need to remind myself to do every few years too.

  3. June 18, 2018 / 3:51 pm

    This is all such pertinent information! I have been meaning to make an appointment with an attorney to have them draft up these documents for both my husband and myself. Thank you for the important reminder!

    • June 19, 2018 / 12:19 pm

      I am so happy to have shared this as a reminder for you Marcie.

  4. June 18, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    I created my own and I’m so glad I did, but I need to update it now that we live in a different state. I probably also need different signature witnesses than the ones I had back in AZ.

    • June 19, 2018 / 12:20 pm

      This would be very good to look into for sure as every state has their own way about things.

  5. June 18, 2018 / 8:18 pm

    This is so vital. I am actually going through this process with my mother. We are putting things in place. I think I need one for myself. Its important make sure your affairs are in order

    • June 22, 2018 / 9:55 am

      Indeed Yolanda! You may as well do your own while doing hers. Maybe it would make it easier on your mom if you did. Could be a strange and unique bonding experience and make it less of “one of those things we do not like to have to do” lol.

  6. June 18, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    This is a topic we all need to know more about so thanks for sharing the information. It reminds of the unfinished business I have to do.

    • June 22, 2018 / 9:54 am

      Thank you so much Clara and I am glad I could help with a reminder.

  7. June 19, 2018 / 10:15 am

    My husband and I have some basic things figured out but we really need to get down to the specifics. I love that you are sharing this info.

  8. June 19, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    This is important information. After my brother in law died at only 50 years of age, we decided it was time to get a lawyer and get all of our ducks in a row.

    • June 19, 2018 / 12:21 pm

      I am so sorry for your loss. Fifty is so young but we just never know when it may be our time so we really are never too young to get these things in order.

  9. ellen beck
    June 24, 2018 / 8:58 am

    So very important! You didnt mention wills, but anyone/everyone actually needs one. Yes, it is upsetting to some to think about, but, think about this.. what if yourself and your husband had a ‘date night’ and heaven forbid, you both passed away. If you have children, whom do you wish to care for them? Who would make the decisions? If you don’t have children but own property (house car etc) or have animals in your care what s the fate there? We all know someone who has died young and sometimes the next of kin is not who they would have chosen to make decisions!

    Do you have your DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney completed? The DNR is not one we have made, although every time we have had surgeries or we have been hospitalized, the questionnaire is there. I see the DNR being an important one, we need to do that one. My Mom had one and had everything planned out. I wasn’t thrilled with the DNR as many can be revived and recover, but that was her wish so I respected it. Living will- again no. I am my husbands POA and he is mine. In the event we both are in the situation, his brother has his, along with one of my brothers.

    What advice would you give your loved ones about DNR, Living Will, And Durable Power Of Attorney? Look into your states rules about POA, Living Wills, and DNR. Have the DNR filed with your primary care DR, and give one to a trusted relative as well as keep a cop f of your own. Same goes for POA etc. Also realize you CAN change your mind- a POA can be revoked say if at a later date you feel someone might nt work for your best interest. A new one does have to be on file though.

    Did you do your forms on your own? I have always done our own. My Mom of course did her own DNR in advance, and she also did hers. Most if not all forms are besides online, available at office stores such as Staples or similar. The online forms arenice though as you can get an idea of what it is going to look like what all involves.

    Did you use a lawyer, online resource or your doctor for assistance? In our case, I had been through some with previous relatives, but I tend to research and if I dont understand, we know several paralegals who will give advice and if they are unsure which isnt often will refer us for a consult Most is pretty straight forward.

    What did you learn from this article or do you have anything to add that I may have missed? I knew most as we are pretty prepared, and again I would add again, have wills made out. Really, even if you own something small, it will scare you how families can act if it isnt in place. We have been involved in many of our families ‘clean ups’ after they have passed (Ie cleaning the houses out) since we are here in town and hubby has construction trucks . People lose their sense of decency and will fight over things you would think they wouldnt. Get a will done.

    • June 27, 2018 / 1:08 pm

      I TOTALLY agree with you on wills! You gave a great example of why we need them too! I decided not to include them in this article because I was already covering so much ground. I also think will deserve their own post. I may have to write one soon.

      I feel similar to you on the DNR. It all depends on the circumstances, the reason why it may be needed, how my health is at the time etc. I leave it up to my POA as well.

      Yes, you are correct in pointing out that they can also be revoked if we change our mind, as long as we are able to.

      Its great you did your own and yes you are so right about seeing them online. It’s just easier I think.

      It sure is nice to know some paralegals lol that is awesome!

      Love your point about even listing the smaller items in wills. I agree people can tend to fight over something you never thought that they would!!

      Thank you so much for the wonderful additions, ideas, thoughts, and comments!

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