Skip to Content

Health Encyclopedia

Medical power of attorney

« Previous Page En Español

Medical power of attorney

A medical power of attorney, also called a durable power of attorney for health care, is a legal document. In it, you grant another person the authority to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so. The person you choose is your health care agent (health care proxy, health care surrogate). Your agent should understand and respect your wishes about medical treatment.

In writing a medical power of attorney, you may state how you want decisions to be made. A medical power of attorney may also give your health care agent the authority to make other types of decisions, including financial ones.

A person must be mentally competent to complete this document. So if you have a progressive brain disorder (such as Alzheimer's disease), think about completing this document as early as possible. This will help avoid later problems as your judgment becomes impaired.

Make sure to store the document in a safe but easily accessible place. Give copies to your doctor, health care agent, attorney, and loved ones.

A medical power of attorney may be called something else in your state.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.