Health Care Proxy vs. Power of Attorney—Get to the Bottom of It With DoNotPay

Advance Health Care Directive Health Care Proxy vs. Power of Attorney—Get to the Bottom of It With DoNotPay

Health Care Proxy vs. Power of Attorney—Which Document Do You Need?

When you are no longer capable of taking care of yourself because of a severe illness or an injury, knowing that you’ll be treated as you wish is essential. You can make that happen by creating a legal document containing the information on preferred medical treatments. You can also designate a third party to make the decisions in your stead.

What is the exact document you need? DoNotPay breaks down the health care proxy vs. power of attorney dilemma, so you can decide which one is suitable for you.

Is a Medical Power of Attorney the Same as a Health Care Proxy?

The medical power of attorney (POA) and health care proxy are subtypes of a broader document called an advance health care directive. It is a general term for directives used when an individual is permanently incapacitated and can’t make medical decisions independently.


Even though the medical power of attorney and a health care proxy are pretty similar, some states recognize slight differences between the two.

What Is a Health Care Proxy?

A health care proxy is a document appointing an individual to make important health care decisions for you when you can no longer do it yourself. The designated agent can also be referred to as a health care proxy.

What Is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A medical power of attorney is a durable POA granting powers to the agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. It works the same way as a health care proxy. There is even a special medical POA for children.

The main difference between a power of attorney and a health care proxy is that the former can also be used when dealing with financial matters in specific situations, i.e., it may have a wider purpose. The latter encompasses only medical decisions.

Alternative Names for the Health Care Directive and the Agent

Besides being called a medical POA or a health care proxy, the advance directive goes by many other names, and so does the agent. Check them out in the following table:

Health Care Directive Alternative Names Agent Alternative Names
  • Medical directive
  • Advance directive
  • Personal directive
  • Advance decision
  • Health care power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney for health care
  • Living will
  • Attorney-in-fact
  • Health care surrogate
  • Medical proxy
  • Patient advocate
  • Health care representative

Some states view all the mentioned documents as one, while others recognize specific differences. It is crucial to check local laws before making this document.

What Is a Living Will?

You should be particularly careful when making a living will. This document does not require an agent but only states your medical treatment demands. Should you choose this option, follow our guides to completing the living will form and the cost of having this document drafted.

Use DoNotPay To Create an Advance Health Care Directive

No matter the name that an advance health care directive goes by in your state, DoNotPay can create it for you. Unlike iffy online forms, the document we deliver is reliable and enforceable. These are the only steps you need to follow:

  1. Sign up for DoNotPay
  2. Choose the Advance Health Care Directive product
  3. Appoint your agent and type in the requisite info
  4. Let us know what powers you want to transfer to your agent

Some jurisdictions mandate the notarization of advance directives and related documents. If the state you live in requires it, you can opt to have the document notarized virtually through our app. You will also need to enter the names of two persons who’ll witness the signing.

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