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What is the Difference between a Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney

I’m Attorney Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. And that’s what we’re going to be discussing, the difference between a durable financial power of attorney, or durable power of attorney, or general power of attorney, or power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney. Now in Georgia, a medical power of attorney is called an advance directive for healthcare. You may also know of it as a living will. So power of attorney, the term really is talking about the legal and financial power of attorney. Medical power of attorney is often used to mean an advance directive for healthcare, but they are different and separate. So the typical power of attorney is going to give someone control over banks, businesses, real estate, litigation. So we’re going to give the authority to make decisions in those arenas and assist with those things if I can’t do them. And an important thing to think of with the power of attorney is that unless I have said that it only starts when I’m incapacitated, you can do those things simultaneously with me. So we can both be making decisions, we can both be signing paperwork. And so that is something to be aware of. If you have a power of attorney that starts immediately, someone could go out and transact business for you tomorrow. And that may or may not be helpful. On the other hand, the advance directive for healthcare, aka medical power of attorney, is almost entirely for times when you can’t speak for yourself. So you can choose not to speak, and say, “This person is going to speak for me,” but generally speaking, if you’re awake and expressing yourself, you’re gonna say what the choices you want are, and the person you have chosen is going to only be speaking for you if for some reason you can’t. So what does that document do? First of all, it chooses the person that you want to speak on your behalf if you cannot, and then it chooses backups, whether that’s because they’re not answering their phone and it’s an emergency, or because something has actually happened to that person and they’re no longer around. The hospital’s going to try to contact them in the order that you’ve listed them. And you’re also gonna make specific choices about what kind of care you want. Do you want to be kept on machines and given best possible chance to live for as long as possible, no matter what? Or would you like to be unplugged if the doctors think that there’s not a good medical chance that you’re going to recover. These are choices that you can make in the document, both by checking specific options and by writing in your specific thoughts. There’s a section where you can write in whatever it is that you want them to know, whether that’s, I want a second medical opinion, I want to be on a ventilator for seven days, but no longer. Whatever that is that you want the doctor and your agent to know. There are also sections where we can talk about powers that the agent has after you’ve passed away. Things that they can do, like authorize an autopsy, donate your body to science, donate your organs. And these are powers that they have, unless you take them away. So you have to think about whether that is something that you would want them to be able to do. And so that’s really the difference. And an important thing to know, in Georgia, a general power of attorney, the durable financial power of attorney, has no authority over medical. So they are completely different. They are separate documents. Just because you have a power of attorney does not mean you have the authority to make medical decisions. So if these are things that you wanna talk about more, I would love to hear from you. And please do like and subscribe for more content.

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