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

| Jan 18, 2021 | Elder Law |

Growing older increases the risk of serious medical issues and illnesses. For some people, these issues are incapacitating, both physically and mentally. When a person is incapacitated, they can no longer make reasonable decisions about their affairs. This is where a power of attorney comes in. 

According to U.S. News & World Report, a power of attorney is afforded certain powers over a person’s affairs, and their authority can be broad or limited. They can also make decisions related to financial or medical matters, as explained here. 

Financial power of attorney vs. medical power of attorney

Financial powers of attorney assume control of money matters, which ensures your finances are taken care of when you are unable to do so yourself. Medical powers of attorney work in conjunction with your living will to make sure its terms are honored by family and medical staff. The right candidate does not need to have expert-level financial or medical knowledge. They should be trustworthy and reliable, however. 

Decision-making ability

While older adults are often hesitant to put another person in charge of their affairs, you have ultimate control over your power of attorney’s decision-making ability. Their primary duty is carrying out your directives when you are unable. As a result, they can handle tasks like selling your property, paying bills, communicating your wishes regarding end-of-life care to doctors, and ensuring these wishes are carried out, even when family disputes them. These powers can even be afforded temporarily, such as after a surgery while you are recovering. 

A power of attorney plays an important role in estate planning and elder law. The person you choose must be responsible and willing to take on all the tasks before them. They must also be able to put their personal feelings aside to ensure your wishes are carried out to the letter. 

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