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"Definition of Durable Power of Attorney "

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Updated: October 21, 2006

Definition: A legal document that allows an individual to appoint someone else (proxy) to make medical or health care decisions, in the event the individual becomes unable to make and/or communicate such decisions personally.

A type of advance directive that allows a person to appoint someone (an attorney-in-fact or proxy) to make medical decisions for the person in the event that he or she is unable to do so.

A power of attorney that remains in effect if the principal (person) becomes incapacitated. If a power of attorney is not specifically made durable, it automatically expires if the principal becomes incapacitated.

Note: The Durable Power of Attorney Health Care differs from a Living Will in that the attorney-in-fact or proxy appointed is authorized to make medical decisions in *any situation* where the person is unable to communicate. The Durable Power of Attorney Health Care is *not just* limited to the event of becoming permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to communicate.

Related Terms: Power of Attorney

Sources:
ADAM's Illustrated Health Encyclopedia. Advanced Directives. At: http://adam.about.com/encyclopedia/001908.htm
Nolo. Glossary. Durable Power of Attorney - Legal Definition. Look Under "D" at: http://www.nolo.com/glossary.cfm
Ohio Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney. At: http://www.ohpco.org/living_will.htm

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