Medical power of attorney (POA) is the legal representation of an agent to handle any and all health care related decisions related to a person (“principal”). The form only becomes effective when the principal can no longer act for themselves most commonly due to a version of dementia or incapacitation. The document needs to be created before any such event should take place.

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Difference Between Health Care POA and a Living Will

The main difference between a health care power of attorney document and a living will is that power of attorney document allows you to choose someone else to assess your medical situation and decide what the best course of action is if you cannot speak for yourself. The living will form only allows for you to make your decisions before any such medical event in relation to what you would like to be conducted, in other words, no third (3rd) person to oversee your care.

A health care power of attorney may be written so that you may direct the agent selected as to the route you would like to go, for example, if you would like to be on life support even though there is no medical recourse to bring the person back to a cognitive state you may write this language in the form.