What is the Difference Between Medical and Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a written document that creates an agency relationship between the person granting authority and an agent, or attorney-in-fact, the person to whom authority is granted.

By signing a durable power of attorney, you authorize another person to engage in specified business, financial and legal transactions on your behalf. It is called “durable” because it does not terminate if you become disabled or incapacitated.

A medical power of attorney, on the other hand, is a document that allows you to designate a trusted family member or friend to make medical decisions for you in the event you become unconscious or mentally incapable of making those decisions for yourself.

The person you designate to make medical decisions for you is called an agent. The agent is given broad authority to make any health care decisions you could have made if you were not incapacitated, unless you specifically restrict his or her authority.

Comments

  1. Is the durable power of attorney all encompassing to include medical power of attorney or are both executed separately?

  2. So we would need both forms dual and medical to have it all correct? Also do u still need to have a will

  3. Can a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney be used even if the person has not become incapacitated?

    • The answer depends on how the power of attorney is written. A springing power of attorney springs into effect only in the principal’s incapacity; however, a power of attorney can be written to go into effect immediately.

  4. Rania, Your reply to Raj makes me wonder how the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is different than an Advanced Directive for Health Care.
    The ADHC states what you want at the end of life, and appoints an agent to make those decisions if you can not speak for yourself.
    I thought the DPAHC would include the ability to talk to doctors/medical staff and read/transfer medical records/notes if the person is not able to (say, because of age and confusion). In other words, I thought it was more than an “end of life” document.

    • The Directive to Physicians allows you to specify what kind of life-sustaining treatment should be administered or withheld if you are diagnosed with an irreversible or terminal condition. The Medical Power of Attorney authorizes your agent to make any and all health care decisions for you; but you can require the agent to direct a physician to comply with an executed Directive to Physicians so that your end-of-life wishes can honored.

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