Both documents serve to allow a person you designate (called an agent) to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot speak for yourself, however they serve very different purposes.

A Durable General Financial Power of Attorney gives a person the authority to handle FINANCIAL affairs on your behalf while you are alive. An effective Durable Financial Power of Attorney may avoid the need for a conservatorship proceeding. However, there are instances where a Durable Financial Power of Attorney is not accepted by a third party which creates uncertainty and may ultimately result in court involvement. (This is one basis for some attorneys’ strong support for the use of Trusts to allow for uninterrupted asset management in the event you cannot handle your finances either temporarily or permanently).

Colorado state law says that COMPETENT adults (those able to make and express decisions) have the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment. A Durable Medical Power of Attorney gives another person authority to make MEDICAL and HEALTHCARE decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself any reason, such as injury, a medical condition, or incompetency. You choose an agent to make your medical decisions when you cannot which gives you the ability to choose people you believe would make decisions consistent with your philosophy and wishes. Without this document, a court-ordered guardianship and/or conservatorship may become necessary.

In Colorado, if you don’t have a signed Medical Durable Power of Attorney, Colorado law offers two solutions: have a guardian appointed by a court or go through a process where a “proxy” is chosen. It is not assumed that the “proxy” will be your spouse; “any interested party” can make or challenge medical decisions, even if they don’t agree with your interests.

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