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Financial and Medical Power of Attorney


A Power of Attorney is a written document that allows you to appoint someone to help make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.

There are basically three decisions or transactions that you may need help with someday.

Financial Decisions 

You may need someone to help pay your bills, manage your assets, enter into contracts or manage your finances and income in general.

Medical Decisions

  • If you become incompetent and need medical attention, someone will have to make medical decisions for you, admit you into the hospital, hire and fire medical personnel, sign HIPA forms and get access to medical records.

End of Life Decisions

  •  When a person becomes terminally ill, and they are no longer able to communicate decisions, then someone will have to decide whether or not they will get life sustaining medical treatments.

Who is your agent?

The person you name to help you in your POA is called an “agent”.

  • Did you name a backup agent?  Many people name one person, and fail to name a backup.  What if something happens to the person you have named in your POA?

  • If you named more than one person, then in what order will they act?  You can name one person first, another person second, and still another person as third.  Or you can name two persons on the same level.  But does these two persons need to act together jointly, or have you included language that they can act separately and independently with no requirement that they act together jointly.

When can your agent do things for you?


  • You can make your POA effective immediately, so that your agent will decide when he or she should help you out.


  •  A springing POA will direct your agent to prove that you are disabled before he or she can do things for you.

Can your agent make medical decisions for you?

The new Medical Power of Attorney statute provides that you can give your agent the following medical powers:

  • To authorize, withhold or withdraw medical care and surgical procedures.
  • To authorize, withhold or withdraw nutrition (food) or hydration (water) medically supplied by tube through my nose, stomach, intestines, arteries or veins.
  • To authorize my admission to or discharge from a medical, nursing, residential or similar facility and to make agreements for my care and health insurance for my care, including hospice and/or palliative care.
  • To hire and fire medical, social service and other support personnel responsible for my care.
  • To take any legal action necessary to do what I have directed.
  • To request that a physician responsible for my care issue a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, including an out-of-hospital DNR order, and sign any required documents and consents.
  • To expend funds necessary to carry out medical treatment, and, in my agent’s discretion, to require or obligate any guardian of my estate, any trustee of a trust for my benefit, or any Agent under any durable power of attorney executed by me with regard to financial matters, to make such expenditures.

Can your agent manage your finances?

The Financial Power of Attorney Statute lists the following powers that must be specifically addressed in your POA:

  • To make gifts
  • To create a trust for my benefit
  • To make additions to an existing trust for my benefit
  • To claim an elective share of the estate of a deceased spouse
  • To disclaim an interest in property
  • To renounce fiduciary positions
  • To withdraw and receive the income or corpus of a trust
  • To engage in real property transactions
  • To engage in tangible personal property transactions
  • To engage in stock, bond and other securities transactions
  • To engage in commodity and option transactions
  • To engage in banking and financial transactions
  • To borrow money
  • To enter safe deposit boxes
  • To engage in insurance transactions
  • To engage in retirement plan transactions
  • To handle interests in estates and trusts
  • To pursue claims and litigation
  • To receive government benefits
  • To pursue tax matters

Can your agent withhold life support if you are terminally ill?

Your agent can make this decision for you someday if you include living will language in your POA.

How do I get a good POA?

You need to contact an estate planning or elder law attorney.  Make sure that you get an attorney who has experience in drafting POAs and has experience in counseling agents.