Financial and medical powers of attorney are two distinct services that involve a person designated as agent managing one’s affairs in ways that protect interests and ensure that one’s wishes are followed. Also known as general power of attorney, financial power of attorney is limited to handling financial matters such as paying bills when the person is not able to handle them physically or mentally. Responsibilities may include oversight of properties and some personal care management functions related to the hiring of home care and assisted living helpers.
Medical power of attorney requires a health care proxy that explicitly states that the agent named is designated to make medical decisions for the person when he or she is no longer of the capacity to do so. The health care proxy is designed to ensure that one’s wishes regarding care are fulfilled even when the capacity to make those wishes known is lacking. The appointed health care proxy’s responsibilities extend to making challenging decisions, including those that may end health care treatment, and thus should be carefully considered.