Difference Between Medical POA vs Durable POA

By February 20, 2019 Blog No Comments

What is the difference between a medical power of attorney and a durable power of attorney?

Life happens, and we can’t stop accidents, illnesses, and aging from happening. We don’t want to think about these things, but they are something we need to address. If something happens and you are unable to tell your doctors what type of medical treatment you want, or you can’t manage your financial affairs while you are in the hospital, what would you do? This is where the power of attorney comes in. The medical and financial powers of an attorney can make your life easier for both you and your family if things get hard.

The power of an attorney.

You’re probably wondering what the power of an attorney actually is. Basically, it’s a legal document that gives someone the power to act in your place. For example, if you ever become mentally incapacitated, you will need durable powers of attorney for both medical care and financial decisions. Someone will need to take over everything for you, because you will be incapable of caring for yourself and taking care of your needs anymore. Giving someone the power of attorney over your life is a huge responsibility for that person, so it’s important to trust this person fully before making this decision.

The durable power of an attorney.

The durable power of an attorney simply means that the documents you sign stay in effect if you become unable to handle things on your own and are unable to make any decisions for yourself. Regular powers of attorney that aren’t labeled as durable will automatically end when the person who makes the decisions loses mental capacity.

Signing for durable power of attorney is something that everyone should do. If something bad happens to you, you can be sure that there is someone taking care of your medical needs and your finances. You can be at ease now, knowing that everything will be taken care of by the person of your choosing

Responsibilities.

With the power of an attorney, the person whom you choose will then be legally permitted to take care of your needs and your important life decisions. For example, this person will take care of paying your bills, directing your medical care, and managing all your finances.

No matter where you are in life right now, it’s really important to take the time to get these documents, sign them, and have them on file. You should decide who your power of attorney will be if anything happens, so that way you can be prepared. This isn’t something we enjoy thinking about, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. If you haven’t made durable powers of attorney and something bad happens to you, then your family may have to go to court to get the authority to help you. That isn’t something you want them to go through, or to have to pay for. That’s why you should take care of this right now.

Medical power of attorney.

A medical power of attorney is a document that will state your wishes for your own health care if you are ever too sick to handle this by yourself. When you decide who this person will be, you are making a very important decision. You are deciding who will take care of your medical care and who will make all of your medical decisions until you can make them again yourself.

Your health care agent will work in collaboration with you and your health care providers to make sure that you get the kind of medical care that you want. When making sure you get the kind of care want, your agent is legally bound to follow the treatment that you specified that you wanted.

To make your preferences clear, you can use something called a living will. A living will provides your health care instructions to your agent and your doctors. It states other things aside from health care–it’s very detailed. Getting a living will is also very important because it states what you would want in many situations, and who gets your belongings if you become deceased. You can never be too prepared, and getting a living will is something that you can do to prepare for the worst.

Financial power of attorney.

A financial power of attorney will give someone of your choosing the complete authority to handle all of your financial transactions. There are some financial powers of attorney that are very simple are can be used for simple transactions. However, the main financial power of attorney is someone who can manage everything financially, not just one aspect. The person whom you want to be your financial power of attorney is someone who is going to manage every single financial aspect of your life if you become mentally incapable of doing so. The official title of this aspect is called the “durable power of attorney for finances.”  You can give this person as much authority over your finances as you like. This is person is then legally called your agent.

Your agent will need to handle things like going through your mail and maintaining your social security. He or she will also need to manage your bank accounts and your investments, as well as your tax returns. This person needs to pay your bills on time, and will need to keep putting money in your savings account. He or she will also need to pay the hospital and pay co-pays for the medical treatment you will be receiving while you’re sick.  This person doesn’t need to be a financial expert, but you need to trust this person completely because he or she will be dealing with some very important aspects of your life.

It might be helpful to make a list of the financial aspects for this person to take care of, if you don’t have a living will. This person might not know everything about your life, and might not know all about your finances. It’s definitely a good idea to at least make a brief list so they can be prepared if anything bad happens to you. You can never be too prepared.

The documents.

You are going to need separate documents for medical care and for your finances. This needs to happen in order to make things easier for your agent and for other people who will be helping.

For example, your health care documents are probably going to be full of personal information and things that your financial agent doesn’t need to know. The same goes vice versa. If you don’t want your financial agent to see the choices you’re going to make medically, then you will need those separate documents.

The people you choose need to work well together. 

If you are going to choose two different people to handle your medical choices and your financial decisions, then you are going to need to make sure that they work well together. Their decisions may go hand in hand, depending on what you choose as your medical choices. The person who is making the financial decisions will need to use your money to make payments on your medical expenses, so it’s important that both of these people are on the same page and don’t have any issues between them.

You also may want to approach the people whom you have in mind and ask them if it’s alright if you choose them as your agents. This is a huge responsibility, and some people might not be comfortable accepting your request.

You will also want these people to know ahead of time about their responsibilities. If something bad happens to you, you don’t want them finding out at the last minute that they’re your powers of attorney. They should have time to mentally prepare for this sort of thing, and they should have time to talk to you about your wishes. It’s important to inform them about what you want so they know ahead of time.

Can I choose the same person for both aspects?

You can choose the same person to be your agent for both medical attorney and financial attorney. However, it’s very important for this person to know what he or she has to do. This kind of responsibility is huge, and the person who you choose for this very important job needs to know what he or she is agreeing to. By letting them know you want them to be both your medical and financial power of attorney, you’re preparing them for handling all of this responsibility.

The importance of signing these documents now.

Setting up all of this now is very important because you never know when you’re going to get sick. Accidents happen every day, and although we don’t like to think about the worst happening, the worst can happen at any time. You need to be prepared for the worst so that way your family and loved ones don’t have to go through the court system to be granted the power to take care of you.

About Woven Capital

Aaron Hatch is a Certified Financial Planner and co-founder of Woven Capital, a fee-only financial planning and investment management firm that specializes in helping people balance life, work, and community. Aaron has been quoted in various publications, including The Chicago Tribune, US News and World Report, and the Huffington Post among others. Aaron can be reached at aaron@wovencapital.net