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Women’s Health Library

Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

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.

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