Advance Healthcare Directive vs. Medical Power of Attorney in Georgia: Understanding the Key Differences


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Which Is Best for You: An Advance Health Care Directive or a Medical Power of Attorney?

Explore the differences between an Advance Healthcare Directive and a Medical Power of Attorney in Georgia and how Perigon Legal Services can assist you in making informed decisions for your healthcare.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on June 30, 2024.

When considering healthcare planning, Georgia residents have two legal tools at their disposal: the advance healthcare directive and the medical power of attorney. While both serve crucial roles in managing healthcare decisions, they differ in scope and application. 

An advance healthcare directive allows individuals to outline their medical preferences in the event that they become unable to communicate their wishes. It ensures that their healthcare trajectory aligns with their values and desires, providing them peace of mind. On the other hand, a medical power of attorney designates a trusted representative to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the individual. This document becomes a guide in uncertain times, empowering the representative to act in the best interest of the incapacitated.

Navigating the nuances of these documents can be daunting. At Perigon Legal Services, we understand the gravity of these decisions and stand ready to illuminate the path forward. We assist Georgia residents in understanding and drafting an advance healthcare directive or medical power of attorney, ensuring that their healthcare wishes are honored and that they have empowered trusted individuals to act on their behalf should the need arise. 

What Is an Advance Healthcare Directive?

Being unable to express your healthcare preferences due to a serious medical condition can be frightening. An Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD) provides clear guidance during times of uncertainty, speaking for you when you cannot. Anchored in your values and choices, it outlines your healthcare wishes, ensuring they are respected and acted upon. 

In Georgia, having an AHD allows you to explicitly state your desires regarding treatment in a medical facility and end-of-life care. The Georgia advance directive typically consists of two essential components. Firstly, the living will articulates your preferences for treatment if you are facing a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state. You may accept or refuse medical interventions, emphasizing what you believe improves your quality of life. 

Secondly, selecting a healthcare proxy or a durable power of attorney for healthcare allows a trusted individual to make decisions on your behalf, in line with your established stipulations.

What Is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney (MPA) is a legal document that empowers someone you trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. In Georgia, the person you designate is often referred to as your agent or healthcare proxy. The scope of an agent’s decisions can range widely from routine treatment choices to end-of-life care. However, this does not give the agent power to manage your financial affairs; that is granted by a financial power of attorney.

Crucially, your agent’s powers activate only when you are judged medically unable to make decisions yourself. Here’s what Georgia law requires for an MPA to be valid:

  • It must be in writing.
  • You must be of sound mind and at least eighteen years old to create an MPA.
  • It requires your signature and that of two witnesses who are not directly involved in your healthcare. 
  • The powers conferred can be broad or limited, as specified by you.

The agent’s authority can cover a broad spectrum of decisions, limited only by the stipulations you outline in the MPA. However, there are legal limits to ensure your wishes are respected and to prevent abuse. Appointing a healthcare proxy through a medical power of attorney is not merely about delegating decisions; it’s an act of trust and prudence. Choosing someone who understands your values and wishes and possesses the fortitude to act on them is paramount.

Comparing Advance Healthcare Directive and Medical Power of Attorney

An advance healthcare directive and a medical power of attorney aid the decision-making process in times of serious health challenges, albeit in different manners. The AHD articulates your healthcare preferences in writing, establishing guidelines for treatment should you become incapacitated. In contrast, an MPA delegates decision-making authority to another person, known as your healthcare agent.

In scenarios where your healthcare preferences are clearly delineated, and you wish to relieve loved ones from making difficult decisions, an AHD may be optimal. However, should circumstances arise that are not covered by an AHD, an MPA allows your appointed agent the flexibility to make choices in real-time that align with your values and best interests.

It’s important to consider both documents’ roles and assess how they can work in conjunction to ensure your healthcare wishes are respected. We recommend consulting with professional services, such as those offered by Perigon Legal Services in Georgia, to find the most suitable approach for your situation.

Legal Implications


When considering the management of healthcare decisions, adhering to the provisions of The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care Act is paramount. The Act recognizes the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare as the primary healthcare document, effectively integrating and surpassing previous separate documents for living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare.

Without advance directives, your autonomy to make healthcare decisions is severely compromised if you are incapacitated. Healthcare providers may find themselves in challenging positions when deciding how to deliver medical care. It may also cause your family members to endure stress and conflict over healthcare decisions on your behalf. With an MPA, physicians are provided with a clear authority figure to consult for patient preferences. 

Having these documents in place offers crucial guidance to healthcare teams and prevents avoidable legal disputes.

Need Further Assistance? Reach Out to Perigon Legal Services Today

Navigating the intricacies of healthcare planning is a profound responsibility. Whether you’re considering an AHD or MPA, remember that each plays a crucial role in safeguarding your medical preferences in Georgia.

Why Contact Us?

  • Tailored Guidance: We provide personalized assistance that respects your unique circumstances and life choices.
  • Reliable Knowledge: Our knowledge of Georgia’s healthcare laws can ensure your directives meet all legal requirements.
  • Peace of Mind: We strive to offer the assurance that your healthcare decisions will stand when it matters most.

Services We Offer:

  • Document preparation for advance healthcare directives and medical power of attorney
  • Consultation to explain the differences and implications of each option
  • Legal advice tailored to your personal healthcare planning needs

Are you ready to take the next step in your healthcare planning journey? Our team at Perigon Legal Services is adept at addressing the specifics of Georgia’s healthcare directives and can aid you in making informed decisions. We understand the gravity of these decisions and the comfort proper planning can bring to you and your loved ones. We invite you to collaborate with us to create a plan that resonates with your values and wishes.

Contact us today for thoughtful consideration and meticulous preparation of your healthcare documents. Let’s work together to ensure your voice is heard now and in the future.

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