Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney for Health Care, Health Care Agent & More: What It's Called in Every State

Health Care Proxy, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Advance Directives
What It's Called In Every State

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint a person – known as the agent or proxy – to make your medical treatment and care decisions if you cannot. You can also list the type of care you want and don’t want in different medical crisis situations. 

This legal document, which is part of an estate plan, becomes effective if you are deemed incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. The agent you choose becomes your voice and has legal authority to carry out your wishes. This person should be someone you trust and knows your values.

Learn more about Health Care Proxies and how to create one with your Gentreo estate plan in this short video.

Create Your Health Care Proxy with Gentreo​

It can be overwhelming to think about all of the considerations when creating your estate planning documents, but Gentreo makes it easy!

We walk you through creating your documents like your Health Care Proxy so that your wishes are followed and everyone knows where to turn if something happens to you.
  • Create State-Specific & Legally Binding Documents
  • Includes Agent Assignment & Living Will
  • Appoint Up To 3 Proxies
  • Store and Share from a Secure Digital Vault
  • Start for Free

FAQs About Protecting Your Health Care Decisions

Health Care Proxy documents vary state-to-state, with different names such as Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, and Power of Attorney for Health Care. 

Most states will honor a Health Care Proxy from another state. However, if you are a frequent visitor to a certain state, you may want to consider having a Health Care Proxy or another similar document from that state, because not all states have specific legal provisions related to out-of-state directives.

Additionally, there are some states where both a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy may be needed. In this case, the Living Will lists your health care choices while the Health Care Proxy appoints the agent to make decisions on your behalf. Living Wills generally fall under the umbrella of Advance Directives for healthcare, and there is another type of advance directive known as your OLST (Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). These orders need to be signed by both the patient (you) and doctor.

If you get into an accident or have a medical issue where you cannot communicate your health care wishes and don’t have a legal document spelling out your wishes, the medical facility will get a court order to appoint a guardian to make choices on your behalf. In this case, you could receive treatments you do not want. Further, the court could appoint a stranger if there is conflict among your loved ones as to who should be your agent. So, you could be in the position of getting treatment you do not want approved by a stranger. No one wants that outcome, which is why it is important to have an updated Health Care Proxy and store it in a secure and accessible location, like your Gentreo Digital Family Vault, so that it can be used in a medical crisis.

As with any estate planning document, your Health Care Proxy should be reviewed and updated periodically. You may want or need to change the person who will act as your proxy should their – or your – life circumstances change. In the case where you list your health care choices, you may have a different view of the type of care you want or not want if your life situation changes. For example, you may want life sustaining treatments when you are younger, but as you get older your preferences may change.

Once you are deemed incapable of making your own decisions, you can no longer legally choose a Health Care Proxy. That’s why it is imperative you create your legal documents, choose your representatives, and make known your choices while you have your faculties. Don’t let someone else make your decisions.

Your Health Care Proxy – and all your estate planning documents – should be stored in a digital vault for quick and easy access. If you store your documents in a fire safe under your bed – or even in a safe deposit box – your loved ones probably won’t be able to access them in an emergency. However, if they have access through your shared digital vault, they can access them from anywhere at any time. 

You must be a capable adult of at least 18 years of age to complete a Health Care Proxy. The minimum age requirement for your Health Care Agent, Power of Attorney or Proxy is different for each state, although in most cases, your agent must be at least 18 years old. In some cases, some states also have restrictions depending on whether you are married and/or in the military.  

What Medical Power of Attorney Document Does Each State Require?

Below is a list of states and their information about Health Care Proxies and Advance Medical Directives. When you use Gentreo, you can create a Health Care Proxy that complies with your state’s laws, and may include optional authority and instruction to enable you to create the best Health Care Proxy for your circumstances. 

State Document Name Summary
Alabama Advance Directive for Health Care You must be 19 years old or older to set up a health care directive. Three advanced directives are available: Living Will, Health Care Proxy, and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A proxy can be part of a Living Will or a Durable Power of Attorney. You can have all three. Learn More
Alaska Advance Health Care Directive This document has five parts: In Part One, you set up a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, where you designate an agent to act on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You can also have the agent make health care decisions if you are coherent. There is an option to name an alternate agent if the first choice is unable to make decisions for you. The remaining parts allow you to spell out treatment choices; specific instructions related to withholding or withdrawing treatment to keep you alive; organ donation; mental health treatment; and designating a primary care doctor. Learn More
Arizona Health Care Power of Attorney You name your agent on this document. If you have a Living Will, a Portable Medical Order (directives if you are frail, seriously ill, or near end of life), and Prehospital Medical Care Directive (Do Not Resuscitate order), these must be attached to the Health Care Power of Attorney form. You or your agent also have options to choose an autopsy, organ/tissue or whole-body donation upon death, and funeral/burial choices. Learn More
Arkansas Health Care Agent Allows a competent adult to name a person (agent) to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You can also name an alternate agent if the initial choice is unavailable or unwilling to serve. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care document is also acceptable to serve in the same capacity as the Health Care Agent. Learn More
California Advanced Health Care Directive This multi-part document names your Power of Attorney for Health Care and lists your choices for medical treatment, a primary care physician, and organ donations. Learn More
Colorado Medical/Health Care Power of Attorney This designates a person of your choice (known as an agent) to make medical decisions you would make if you were able to speak for yourself. The agent must carry out your wishes as expressed in your Living Will, if you have one. The document should include a statement granting authority to healthcare providers to release information to your agent even before you are deemed incapacitated. You can grant limited or broad authority to the agent and name successor agents. If you do not have a Living Will, you can name a Proxy Decision Maker for Medical Treatment that will make all medical decisions for you. Or, if a doctor has determined that you are not able to make your own decisions, your family and close friends would be asked to choose a Proxy. If they cannot, a court will appoint a guardian. Learn More
Connecticut Health Care Representative This is a person you appoint to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself. Decisions will be based on your wishes as stated in a Living Will or as otherwise known to your health care representative. In the event your wishes are not clear, or a situation arises that you did not anticipate, your health care representative will decide in your best interests, based upon your wishes. Learn More
Delaware Power of Attorney for Health Care The document names a person you choose to make medical treatment decisions if you are unable to do so. If you are not in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state, your agent may make all health care decisions for you except for decisions to provide, withhold or withdraw a life sustaining procedure. Learn More
District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) Power of Attorney for Health Care The person (attorney-in-fact) you appoint has legal authority to grant, refuse, or withdraw consent for any health-care service, treatment, or procedure on your behalf if you cannot make your own decisions. The attorney-in-fact also has the authority to contact health-care personnel, get information, and sign forms necessary to carry out these decisions. In this document, you also state the type of treatment you desire or not want. Learn More
Florida Health Care Surrogate You appoint a person to make health care decisions on your behalf at any time, even if you are competent. If you do not have a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, or the surrogate is unable to carry out their duty, the Florida Health Care Proxy Statute provides an order of determination for your spouse, adult children, or siblings to make your medical treatment decisions. Learn More
Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care This document has three parts: 1) Appoint an agent to carry out your health care decisions; 2) Provide your choices for withholding or withdrawing life support and for accepting or declining nutrition and/or hydration; 3) Nominate a guardian if a court determines one is necessary. Learn More
Hawaii Advance Health Care Directive A single, three-part document where you choose a Health Care Power of Attorney who is obligated to carry out your medical treatment decisions if you are incapacitated; provide instructions of the type of care you want or not want including artificial feeding and hydration; and indicate wishes for comfort care. Learn More
Idaho Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care A single form allows you to provide your choices for withholding or providing treatment if a doctor has certified your condition is terminal or you are in a persistent vegetative state; and allows the appointment of a health care agent to make decisions in the event you no longer have capacity to communicate your own choices. Learn More
Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care This agent can make decisions to accept or decline treatment for both physical and mental conditions. The document also allows you to list your medical care choices. If you become unable to make your own health care decisions and have not named an agent in writing, your physician and other healthcare providers will ask a family member, friend, or guardian to make decisions for you. In Illinois, a law directs which of these individuals will be consulted. In that law, each of these individuals is called a "surrogate." Learn More
Indiana Health Care Representative This person has authority to withdraw or withhold treatment even if it may result in your death. The representative must first try to discuss this with you if you are incapacitated. The representative may make the decision after consulting with your physician. Learn More
Iowa Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care This agent must act in accordance with your directives stated in the document or otherwise made known. Iowa also offers the Iowa Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (IPOST) document that allows a person to communicate their preferences for key life-sustaining treatments including resuscitation, general scope of treatment, artificial nutrition, and more. IPOST is appropriate for an individual who is frail, elderly, or who has a chronic, critical medical condition or terminal illness. Learn More
Kansas Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions The attorney-in-fact can consent, refuse, or withdraw any treatment or procedure related to physical and mental condition. This person can also decide about organ donation, autopsy, and disposition of the body. Authority is also granted for the attorney-in-fact to make arrangements at any hospital, psychiatric hospital/facility, hospice, and nursing home in Kansas or any other state or country. Learn More
Kentucky Living Will The document allows you to designate a Health Care Surrogate to make decisions on your behalf in accordance with directives upon incapacitation including refusing or requesting life prolonging treatment, refusing or requesting artificial feeding or hydration (tube feeding), and expressing wishes regarding organ donation. The Living Will is suspended during pregnancy. Learn More
Louisiana Advanced Medical Directives With Louisiana’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you authorize a person to make your health care decisions only if you cannot make them yourself, including life sustaining procedures. You do not have to be at the end of your life for the agent to act in your stead. For example, you could be in a coma, but likely to recover. The Louisiana Living Will advance directive also provides your choices for the type of treatments you want or don’t want as well as those you want to make sure you receive. Learn More
Maine Advance Health Care Directive/Health Care Proxy You must be 18 years old to designate a person as your Health Care Proxy which is part of the Advance Health Care Directive document. Your proxy might be a family member, a friend, your lawyer, or someone from your church or place of worship. You can grant the proxy limited or broad authority. Learn More
Maryland Advance Directive for Health Care/Health Care Agent This document provides for the appointment of a Health Care Agent (also known as a Durable Power of Attorney) where you name a someone you trust to speak for you about the medical care you do or do not want. Learn More
Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Your agent has the legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for you and must fully consider all options after consulting with your healthcare providers. The state allows an agent to have access to all your medical records so they can make informed decisions. Massachusetts does not recognize a Living Will, so you should include your choices about treatment in your Health Care Proxy. Learn More
Michigan Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care This patient advocate makes your health care decisions if you cannot. Michigan does not recognize a Living Will, so your treatment choices should be included in the Durable Power of Attorney document. Learn More
Minnesota Health Care Directive You name an agent to act on your behalf if you cannot make your own health care decisions. In this document, you also state preferences for medical treatments, organ donations, funeral arrangements, and appointing a guardian should there be court intervention. Learn More
Mississippi Advance Health Care Directive Appoint a Power of Attorney for Health Care to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf and provide instructions about what health care procedures you want or do not want. Learn More
Missouri Advance Directive for Health Care Allows you to appoint a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive to make all health care related decisions for you if you cannot and express your wishes for medical treatments. These include withholding or withdrawing life support. Learn More
Montana Advance Medical Directives Name a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care to express your medical treatment wishes if you cannot communicate your own decisions. Health care and life sustaining wishes are stated in a Living Will. Learn More
Nebraska Health Care Power of Attorney Appoint someone to make your health care treatment decisions with specific guidelines outlined in the document. Complete a Living Will to state the type of care you would want to receive if you should suffer from a terminal illness or succumb to a persistent vegetative state. Learn More
Nevada Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions Allows you to give your attorney-in-fact broad authority to make health care decisions for you related to physical and mental conditions. Learn More
New Hampshire Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Names a person to act as your health care agent to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. In addition, a Living Will allows you to state whether you want life-sustaining treatment if you have a terminal condition or are permanently unconscious. You also include instructions about treatment preferences and how long you want them. New Hampshire law requires you to state in the document if you do not want artificial hydration or feeding. Learn More
New Jersey Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care You choose a Health Care Representative to make health care decisions for you in the event you cannot make them yourself. This document is effective whether your inability to make decisions is temporary due to an accident or permanent because of a disease. By adding a Living Will, you can express your wishes about the kinds of situations you would want or not want to have life-sustaining treatment. Learn More
New Mexico Power of Attorney for Health Care A three-part document where you appoint a Power of Attorney for Health Care to carry out your medical treatment preferences if you are incapacitated or even if you are capable of making your own decisions. The other parts allow you to list your health care choices and designate a primary care physician for your care. Learn More
New York Health Care Proxy If you lose the ability to make your own health care decisions, the agent you choose will make them on your behalf. You may state your medical treatment choices in the document and give your agent as little or as much authority you choose. Learn More
North Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney The document gives your designee broad powers to make health care decisions when you cannot communicate your choices. Your wishes about life-prolonging measures, mental health treatment, and other medical related procedures should be discussed with your agent. You can set limitations or restrictions on the agent’s powers. Learn More
North Dakota Health Care Directive Name an agent to make medical treatment decisions for you based on instructions you provide in the document. If no instructions are given, the agent will act in your best interest. You may also choose an alternate agent and include decisions on organ donations. Learn More
Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney Allows you to appoint an adult to act as your agent to make health care decisions if you are unable to do so. The document also has provisions to include your choices on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, artificial hydration and nutrition, Do Not Resuscitate, and comfort care. Learn More
Oklahoma Advance Directive for Health Care Includes a provision to appoint a Health Care Proxy who is authorized to make whatever health care treatment decisions you would make if you were able. The proxy cannot make decisions on life-sustaining treatment and artificial nutrition and hydration unless indicated by you in the document. A Living Will allows you to spell out your health care treatment choices. Learn More
Oregon Advance Directive Choose a person as your Health Care Representative to carry out your medical treatment choices as instructed in the document if you cannot speak for yourself. You can also include directions for end-of-life care. Learn More
Pennsylvania Durable Health Care Power of Attorney A combined document includes Health Care Treatment Instructions (Living Will) where you list your medical treatment preferences. The Durable Power of Attorney is a person you authorize as your Health Care Agent to make treatment decisions on your behalf if you are incapable of expressing your wishes. Learn More
Puerto Rico Prior Voluntary Declaration Known more commonly as an Advance Directive, those 21 and older can express their health care treatment wishes in writing in the event you suffer a health condition where you cannot communicate. Healthcare providers are legally required to follow these directives. Learn More
Rhode Island Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care You authorize another person as your agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are not unable to do so. You do not have to have a terminal condition to activate the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Additionally, you can establish a Living Will to instruct your physicians to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition. Learn More
South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney A competent adult may designate someone to make decisions on their behalf about their medical care in the event they become incapacitated. An addendum is available to express wishes for future mental health treatment. Learn More
South Dakota Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care If you become incapable of making your own health care choices, the agent you chose for your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care will step in and make decisions for you. If you do not have an agent and you become incapacitated, South Dakota law specifies that your medical treatment decisions may be made by family members in the following order: Your spouse unless you are legally separated; an adult child; a parent; an adult sibling; a grandparent; an adult grandchild; an adult aunt or uncle; an adult cousin; an adult niece or nephew; or a close friend. Learn More
Tennessee Health Care Agent In 2004, Tennessee law changed the Durable Power of Attorney document to the Appointment of Health Care Agent. This person can only make decisions if you are not able to make your own. You can spell out your health care treatment wishes in the Advance Care Plan, formerly called a Living Will. Learn More
Texas Medical Power of Attorney This document authorizes the person you name as your agent to make all health care decisions for you in accordance with your wishes, religious and moral beliefs, when you are not capable of making them yourself. Learn More
Utah Health Care Agent/Health Care Power of Attorney Allows you to name another person (Health Care Power of Attorney) to make health care decisions for you when you cannot make decisions or speak for yourself. You can expand or limit powers and nominate an alternate agent to serve as a guardian if needed. Learn More
Vermont Advance Directive for Health Care Name a person to serve as your Health Care Agent who will make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You also state your medical preferences. Under Vermont law, next-of-kin cannot automatically make health care treatment decisions for you. Learn More
Virginia Advance Medical Directive Authorize a person (spouse, child, or friend) to act on your behalf as your Healthcare “agent” or “proxy” to make medical treatment decisions for you if you become incapable of making informed health care decisions. You can also give your agent specific instructions about the type of care you would want or not want. Learn More
Washington Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care This document lets you name another person to make your health care and treatment decisions for you if you become unable to communicate what you want. It takes effect only if you become incapacitated and lasts for as long as you are unable to communicate your own decisions. Learn More
West Virginia Combined Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will The document allows you to appoint a representative to act on your behalf to consent, refuse, or withdraw informed medical treatments in the event you cannot make your own choices. You may also provide special directives and limit the power of the representative. Learn More
Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care You can appoint a Health Care Agent to make health care choices for you if you cannot communicate your decisions. The agent’s decisions will be based on choices you previously made known. If you have not expressed any choices, the agent will make decisions they believe to be in your best interest. The agent cannot commit you to a mental institution. Learn More
Wyoming Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Name an agent to make your health care decisions if you become incapable of expressing your choices. You may designate the level of authority the agent has and name an alternate agent. The supplemental Living Will document also allows you to provide specific medical care and treatment wishes, name a supervising healthcare provider, and choose whether to donate organs upon your passing. Learn More