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Do You Need a P.O.S.T. Document as Part of Your Idaho Estate Plan

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

For over 70 years our Idaho estate planning clients have come to us with questions and concerns about making sure they have a complete estate plan. Our goal is to answer our client’s questions and assist them in making the meaningful personal decisions to provide them with the protections they need during their lifetime. We also assist our clients in making the difficult end-of-life decisions that must be done as well as helping them create a plan to distribute their money, property, and assets to their loved ones after they have passed away.

In providing protection for our clients while they are alive, a basic part of our estate planning documents and a complete plan includes having a customized Living Will. A Living Will is a document our client’s use that allows them to provide specific instructions to their healthcare providers and doctors if they are ever in a terminal condition, they are being kept alive by life support systems, and they cannot communicate. If there is ever a time when these circumstances exist, our client’s Living Will gives our clients the ability to provide specific instructions about what they do want and what they do not want as part of their medical treatment.

Some of the basic language in the Living Will includes provision having to do with a P.O.S.T. document. The purpose of this article is to help you understand what a P.O.S.T. document is and how it could be included as part of your estate planning in you need it to be.

Our premier team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have assisted clients in creating their valid Living Wills as part of their estate plan. The lawyers on our team consist of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of the estate planning lawyers on our team have received the highest ratings for their ethics and legal abilities in helping their clients reach their goals. We know we can help you with all of your estate planning needs, including your Living Will.

To help you understand how a P.O.S.T. document could be included as part of your Living Will and estate plan here are the three most important things you should know:

1. What a P.O.S.T. Document is

The abbreviation “P.O.S.T.” stands for a specific document that is known as a Physician's Order for Scope of Treatment. Whenever a person has a terminal disease or illness but their death is not imminent, their treating doctor may help them create this type of document. For example, cancer is a common situation where a P.O.S.T. document may be created by the patient and doctor. To be sure, cancer is not the only situation where a P.O.S.T. document is used. Whenever any illness or injury arises that a doctor has diagnosed which will eventually lead to the death of the person in the future a P.O.S.T. document can be used.

In our experience, it is usually after a doctor has diagnosed a patient with a terminal illness or injury, that they have a conversation with the patient about creating and using a P.O.S.T. document. The doctor and the patient then work together to define what the terms of the P.O.S.T. document will be and how these terms will apply to their medical treatment and eventually to their end-of-life.

2. What a P.O.S.T. Document Does

The next most important thing is to understand what aP.O.S.T. document actually does. As was already stated, the purpose of a P.O.S.T. document is to give the doctor and patient the ability to specifically define what the scope of treatment will be throughout the patient’s illness or injury. Usually this document spells out specifically the course of treatment that will be received by the patient as the illness or injury progresses towards death.

Additionally, the P.O.S.T. document can provide very specific instructions to both emergency medical personnel and other doctors about whether they should or should not administer CPR if a medical emergency arises. In addition to providing specific instructions about whether or not CPR is to be administered, a P.O.S.T. document can also provide information about a patient’s specific wishes for other end-of-life health care treatments such as pain medications and so forth.

3. How a P.O.S.T. Document Works With Your Living Will

The most important question that will be answered by this article is how a P.O.S.T. document works with your Living Will. The purpose of a living will is to allow any person to give their doctors and other healthcare provider specific instructions about what they do want and what they do not want at the end of their life.

A major difference between a P.O.S.T. document and a Living Will is that a P.O.S.T. document is only created when you already have a terminal injury or illness diagnosed by a doctor. Alternatively a Living Will can be created at anytime by any person as part of their basic estate plan regardless of whether they already have an injury or illness that is terminal. In other words, a P.O.S.T. document is created post-diagnosis but a Living Will can be created before there is any diagnosis of any medical problems.

So how do these documents work together? The good news is that most Living Wills have an option built into them that allows a person to incorporate their P.O.S.T. document as part of their Living Will at any time, even if the P.O.S.T. document hasn’t yet been created. When a client already has a P.O.S.T. document, or if one is created at a later time, the client only needs to mark the option on their Living Will that incorporates the P.O.S.T. document as part of their treatment plan. When a client does this, their doctors and other health care providers will review the P.O.S.T. document in the medical records as well as the Living Will and the instructions that were left. In this way, our clients know that all of their specific instructions about their medical and health care treatment will be specifically followed.

We have helped numerous clients in creating and customizing their own estate plans including Living Wills and P.O.S.T. documents. If you have questions about how a P.O.S.T. document or a Living Will could help you we have the answers.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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