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Financial Power of Attorney
and Healthcare Directives

Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives are used to document who will make decisions and manage affairs when a person is no longer able to do so, as well as record the person’s healthcare wishes. The links below are for state-specific forms, where applicable. 


Powers of Attorney for Finance (POA)

  • Appoints an agent to manage finances and property, including paying bills, making bank deposits, managing investments, collecting insurance benefits, selling property and more

  • Depending on how it is written, a Power of Attorney for Finance will be one of the following:

    • General: only in effect until the person becomes incapacitated 

    • Durable : remains in effect even if the person becomes incapacitated

    • Special or Limited: grants authority to make decisions only for specified activities

    • Springing: effective when the person becomes incapacitated or at a specified time


Advance Healthcare Directives 

  • A broad category of legal instructions outlining wishes for healthcare and treatment decisions and naming a healthcare agent, proxy, representative, or surrogate.  

  • Decisions may include which treatments and medications are received, admission and discharge from a hospital or nursing home, what in-home care is provided, and more

  • Power of Attorney for Healthcare or Medical Power Power of Attorney: specifies when and how the document becomes effective, and may include general information on healthcare wishes

  • Living Will: defines healthcare wishes in the event of a terminal illness or at end-of-life

  • Advance Health Care Directive: defines healthcare wishes for when an individual cannot speak for themselves. It is not limited to end-of-life situations

  • Dementia Directive: not a legal document but captures an individual’s wishes as they relate to the care and treatment they want as their dementia progresses


Medical Orders signed by a physician and the individual. A copy should be kept in a visible place in the home 

  • Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR): for individuals with terminal illness or serious medical conditions who do not want to be resuscitated if their heart stops.

  • Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): for individuals who are frail or with serious medical conditions who want to specify their treatment at end-of-life. May be called Provider's Order in some states. 



  • Power of Attorney documents can be written by an attorney or by completing a state-specific form and often require a notary or witness. 

  • It is recommended to use an attorney, especially if the estate is complicated or there are multiple family members and involved individuals. 

  • Someone with dementia or another cognitive impairment may still be able to name an agent. An attorney can determine whether someone has the capacity to name an agent.

  • The named agent will have significant responsibility so should be a trusted individual or entity.  The document and wishes should be reviewed with the agent.

  • If someone has not named a financial or healthcare agent, the state will assume the responsibility and make decisions on behalf of the individual.

  • Depending on the state, POAs have legal and ethical requirements for the tracking and management of finances.  A tool like Advocord can help with this. 

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