Does a Power of Attorney give me the right to make medical decisions?

Not all Powers of Attorney for Finances are created equal. The amount of control given to an appointed representative (called an “attorney-in-fact”) depends on the powers specifically spelled out in the document.

A Power of Attorney for Finances (or Durable Financial Power of Attorney) allows the attorney-in-fact to exercise control over the person’s (the principal) financial matters. The document should be “durable” meaning that it continues to be effective if the principal becomes incapacitated.

While a Power of Attorney for Finances allows financial control over the principal, it does not grant the ability to make medical decisions; the Advance Directive for Health Care is required to make medical decisions on behalf of a loved one who is unable to do so. An Advance Directive allows a principal to nominate one or more medical decision makers, called “healthcare representatives,” just as a Power of Attorney allows a person to nominate an attorney-in-fact.

A Power of Attorney for Finances and an Advance Directive for Health Care are vital elements of a complete estate plan. Both allow a principal to take steps to avoid disruption in their life should they become incapacitated. However, not everyone has these documents.

To learn about how you can make medical and financial decisions for an incapacitated loved one who does not have a Power of Attorney for Finances or an Advance Directive, see our blog post about Guardianship and Conservatorship.

An experienced Estate Planning Attorney can help you understand your options. Contact the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.