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A Guide to Powers of Attorney and Health Care Decisions

One way to ensure that your health care wishes are followed in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself is by designating a power of attorney (POA). A POA is a legal document that gives someone else, known as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” the authority to act on your behalf. It is important to have a POA in place to ensure that someone you trust can make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are two main types of POA: durable and non-durable. A durable POA remains in effect even if you become incapacitated, while a non-durable POA only applies when you are able to make decisions for yourself.

When it comes to health care decisions, it’s important to have a durable POA in place. This ensures that your agent can make decisions for you if you are unable to do so due to illness or injury.

Selecting an Agent

When choosing an agent, it’s important to select someone you trust and who is willing to act in your best interests. This person should also be able to make difficult decisions and communicate effectively with your health care team. It’s also a good idea to choose an alternate agent in case your primary choice is unable to serve in this role.

Communicating Your Wishes

It’s important to discuss your health care wishes with your agent and make sure they understand your preferences. This can help ensure that your agent is able to make decisions that align with your values and beliefs.

It’s also a good idea to put your wishes in writing through a document called an advance health care directive. This can include things like whether you want to be kept on life support, your views on pain management, and your preference for end-of-life care.

Limitations of a Power of Attorney

It’s important to note that a POA does not give your agent unlimited power. Your agent is required to act in your best interests and must follow any instructions or limitations you set out in the POA document.

Additionally, a POA only applies to health care decisions. It does not give your agent the authority to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. If you want someone to have this type of authority, you will need to execute a separate financial POA.


A power of attorney can be a valuable tool for ensuring that your health care wishes are respected in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. By selecting a trusted agent and communicating your wishes, you can have peace of mind knowing that your healthcare is in good hands.

This article was published by a third party and is intended for general informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views of Legacy Assurance Plan. Some information may not apply to your situation. It does not, nor is it intended, to constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney regarding any questions about estate planning matters. Legacy Assurance Plan is an estate planning services company and is not a lawyer or law firm and is not engaged in the practice of law. For more information about a last will and testament and other estate planning matters, visit our website at