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.


  1. What’s all needed to get a medical power of attorney for parents. Thank you Lisa

  2. What is the definition of incapacitated? Would someone deemed mentally ill be considered incapacitated? I have guardianship and medical and financial power of attorney. This person is refusing any medical treatment for a serious illness and I’m wondering if there is any way to override this and get the attention they need?

    • According to Section Sec. 1002.017 of the Texas Estates Code, an “Incapacitated person” means:
      (1) a minor;
      (2) an adult who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to:

        (A) provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself;
        (B) care for the person’s own physical health; or

        (C) manage the person’s own financial affairs; or

      (3) a person who must have a guardian appointed for the person to receive funds due the person from a governmental source.

  3. For a child who has turned 18 and leaves for college, what documents do I need if something happens and the child ends up in the hospital and can’t make their own decisions so that I can help make decisions for their care.

  4. Can a medical power of attorney be in effect before the individual becomes incapacitated?

  5. I have durable power of attorney over my mother. Am I able to make medical decisions for her with that? Or can the state step in and take guardianship over her because I don’t have healthcare power of attorney?

  6. I have medical POA for my uncle who now is incapicitated. How do I get financial POA in order to act in his behalf for financial actions?

  7. Dorothy Bagwill says

    Does the POA Medical mean that the person designated is responsible for any medical bills after death?

  8. I am confused. Can I have a Medical advanced directive to carry end of life issues/treatment and as well as a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney to carry out all my medical and health care decisions (not listed in my living will)?

  9. What do you need for someone to be able to handle financial and medical decisions before and after you die? I understand the Durable Power of Attorney ends when you die. Who would pay the bills after you die such as funeral expenses?

    • An executor is responsible for making sure that a deceased person’s debts are paid, and that any remaining money or property is distributed according to the deceased person’s wishes.

  10. Regarding durable POA; it does not terminate if you become disabled or incapacitated. When does it terminate?

  11. Can a durable power of attorney override the decision of medical power of attorney?

  12. I have medical POA for my father, but not financial. He has dementia but not enough advanced to keep him from making his own finical decisions. As such am I responsible for his medical bills?

    • Generally, as long as an agent is not a party to the debt, the agent is not personally liable for the debts of the principal. The principal is responsible for his or her own debt.

  13. My mother has dementia. I only have a notarized Power of Attorney over her and she has been living with me since 2011. Should I get a Medical and Durable Documents? Thanks for your reply.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

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

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