I’ve heard of a Power of Attorney and an Advanced Directive. Is there a difference?

I’ve heard of a Power of Attorney and an Advanced Directive.  Is there a difference?


Yes, there are a number of differences between a Power of Attorney and an Advanced Directive.

A Power of Attorney (POA) gives another person the authority to act on your financial and medical matters.  Should you become unable or unwilling to make medical or financial decisions for yourself, the person acting under your direction (your Agent) will have the power to make those decisions for you.
In a financial POA, you can allow your agent to handle your financial well-being.  Your agent can access your bank accounts, pay your bills, buy and sell real estate or other personal property, invest or sell investments on your behalf, and perform many other actions under your name. You always want to ensure that the person you name as your agent is someone you trust.
A medical power of attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you.  As will be discussed below, an Advanced Directive gives instructions should certain events take place.  Your medical POA agent can make decisions for you that your advanced directive may not cover.
In both medical and financial powers of attorney, you can decide if you want your agent’s powers to begin at the moment you sign the Power of Attorney, or if you want their power to begin when you are no longer able to make medical or financial decisions for yourself. Attorney Feinman can help you navigate the pros and cons of each of these “begin date” decisions.

An Advanced Directive, as briefly stated earlier, is a document you create that allows your doctors, medical team, and family to know what your wishes are concerning end-of-life decisions.  Do you want life support?  Do you want to be resuscitated?  Do you want to be fed through a tube?  These and many other decisions are difficult to think about but absolutely necessary for your future health care needs, as well as your family’s peace of mind.



This information has been prepared for general knowledge purposes and is not intended to serve as legal advice.