State Specific Powers

A handful of states ask you to make decisions about very specific powers you can grant to your agent. If you live in one of the states below, the program will guide you step by step through your choices. Here, we provide a brief overview of each power.

New Hampshire

You will be asked to decide whether, under certain circumstances, your agent may override your objections to treatment. New Hampshire, like most other states, requires your agent and medical providers to make an effort to inform you of any proposed medical treatments, or of any proposal to withdraw or withhold treatment from you. Usually, your caretakers may not provide or withhold treatments if you object, even if you are determined to be incapacitated and incapable of making informed health care choices.

In New Hampshire, however, you can state that your agent should carry out your treatment wishes when your health care providers have determined that you are no longer capable of making informed decisions —even if you verbally object to those treatments when the time comes. When you make your health care document, we ask you whether or not you want to give your agent this power.

You may want to grant this authority if you are concerned about being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of severe dementia. Dementia may cause you to become argumentative and resist the reasoned treatment decisions that you made before you became ill.

This power can make it much easier for your agent to carry out your wishes if you ever become incapable of making rational decisions. But do think carefully before you add it to your document. It places an enormous amount of authority in your agent's hands. Before granting the power, be certain your agent is someone you completely trust to treat you well, and that your agent fully understands your wishes for care.


You will be asked to decide whether your agent can admit you to a nursing home. In most states, a health care agent automatically has the power to decide whether or not to admit you to a nursing home or other long­term care facility—whether for a short stay or a long one. In this state, however, you must specifically state whether or not you want your agent to have the power to admit you for anything other than a short­term stay for recuperation or rest. The program will ask you to express your wishes on this matter.

Granting this authority to your health care agent does not mean that you want or prefer to be admitted to a nursing home or residential care facility. As with other matters, your agent must follow your specific wishes. For example, if you would consent to be admitted to a nursing home only as a last resort, you can give your agent the power to admit you, but make sure your agent understands your feelings and preferences.

Keep in mind that if you do not grant this authority and your situation changes or deteriorates to the extent that your health care providers and agent agree that admitting you to a long­term care facility is best for you, your agent may be required to initiate court proceedings in order to get you the care you need.

Ultimately, the choice is deeply personal. The best you can do is make the choice that feels right to you now—and be sure to talk with your agent about your wishes.


You will be asked to decide about four special powers:

  • Authorizing mental health treatment. If you grant this power, your agent will be able to admit you to a health care facility for mental health treatment after a physician examines you and certifies that you need such Without this power, your agent will be required to ask a judge for permission to admit you. If you don't think you'll need mental health treatment, or if you'd rather have a court oversee your mental health care, you may not want to grant this power. But if you are concerned that you may require mental health treatment and you fully trust your agent to decide for you, granting this power could avoid a lot of time, expense and trouble.
  • Authorizing treatment over your objections. This power is very similar to the power for New Hampshire agents described above. See that description for more
  • Continuing to serve over your objection. This power states that, if you are incapable of making informed health care decisions, your agent may continue to represent you even if you protest your agent's authority at the time. If you don't grant this power, your agent's authority will be revoked upon your objection and your alternate agent will step If you haven't appointed an alternate or none of your alternates are available, Virginia law will determine who makes medical decisions for you.
  • Enrolling you in health care studies. If you grant this power, your agent will have permission to enroll you in qualified health care You can limit your participation to studies that may personally benefit you, or you may allow studies that may not help you personally, but might contribute to greater scientific knowledge and advances for patients in the future. As with any other health care choice, your agent will be required by law to act in your best interests and avoid any decisions that conflict with your known beliefs and values.


You will be asked to decide whether your agent can admit you to a nursing home. For more information, see the note for Utah, above.

Kentucky, New Jersey or New Mexico

If you live in any of these states, the program will not ask you about authorizing the disposition of your remains. These states require that you use a document other than your health care directive to make this authorization.

  • In Kentucky, to direct the disposition of your remains you must use a state-authorized "funeral planning "
  • In New Jersey, to name a "funeral agent," you must use either a will or a state-approved
  • In New Mexico, to designate someone who is legally authorized to carry out your final arrangements you must use a

Read more about how to make a final arrangements document with WillMaker.