Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney (or healthcare directive) is a document confirmed by two sides that aims to legitimize the responsibility for the principal in case of unexpected health occasions. The attorney-in-fact should be a trusted relative who will make significant medical decisions for an applicant. Important to mention that the medical power of attorney does not influence the specifications of the testament. The most frequent reason for assigning the form is to ensure one’s future choices if one becomes incapacitated.

As one does not know what can happen the following day, it is better to be calm about the future and warranted in advance.

Primary Expressions

Principal — the individual who wishes to and creates the form of attorney.

Agent (Attorney-in-Fact, Proxy) — the individual whom the principal chooses to take care of and represent them.

Incapacitation — any condition that makes one incapable of running their activities and making conscious decisions.

The Rights Provided by Medical Power of Attorney

The elected agent is empowered with almost all healthcare rights concerning the principal. However, the principal can specify and restrict some of the actions from the proxy, but the only thing that cannot be allowed is the removal of life-support aids. So, agents can choose the type and place of treatment, doctors, nurses, and facilities. Note that the agent needs to show the signed form every time they have to present the principal.

How to Create a Medical Power of Attorney Document

Stage 1 - Decide Who will be Your Agent(s)

There should be at least one proxy. It is often a relative, a beloved one, or a friend, someone who can truly know the principal’s interest. However, this attorney-in-fact must be an adult person, and they must not be related to the applicant’s treatment place. Optionally, there should be “successors agents”—two additionally specified proxies. Their responsibility is to substitute the primary agent if they pass away, are absent abroad, etc.

Stage 2 - Name the Agent(s) Range of Rights

Since the proxies receive all the medical decision-making capabilities belonged to the principal, they are responsible for the health care of the incapacitated POA maker. The list of possible decisions covers the various medical procedures the applicant receives, medicine, surgeries, organ donation, etc.

Stage 3 - Sign and Attest the Directive

The essential part of the document formation is its signing process. The legislation requires the form to be:

  • Signed in the attendance of exactly two witnesses. They must confirm the principal’s signature and sign the document.
  • Acknowledged by a notary. This procedure has two variations—online or personal. The former includes completing the process through Notarize.com by sending the document and depositing $25. The latter entails finding a notary public in banks, postal offices, and law institutions and being physically present during the signing process.

Stage 4 - Spreading

After completing the form, the principal’s purpose is to make and distribute copies to primary doctors, all attorneys, and others considered required. However, it is crucial to list every person with access to the form because each should be asked and informed in case of changes.

How to Fill the Medical Power of Attorney Form

First, one should be fully prepared to fill out the form before signing it (example can be viewed as a sample-filled version). Remember that a document is governed by the laws of the jurisdiction where the matter takes place.

Below, there is a brief plan of how to fill out the document correctly section by section:

  1. Include the principal’s contact information (name, address, city, and state), continued by the information about the proxy (places of living and working, cell and phone numbers, email address).
  2. Restrictions of proxy’s power. It is an optional field that can be left empty if the principal does not specify the prohibitions. However, if they do, all the actions should be indicated in the section.
  3. Alternate agents. The field of indicating substitute proxies is also voluntary. If the principal aims to specify several additional certified individuals, they should write their personal data. Note that the order of defining the names is important and affects the placement by which the responsibilities will be resumed.
  4. Original and duplicates of the form. In the following section, firstly, fill in the storage place of the original document. It is possible to specify in detail the exact room, locker, etc. In the second field, clarify the name(s) of every individual who will own the copy, if any. Each of the mentioned persons will be informed if the principal decides to cancel the document.
  5. Effectiveness of the POA. This section is unrestricted and filled only if one desires the form to expire at a particular moment. If so, one should write their initials, tick the box, and write the termination date.
  6. Signing. The majority of signing constraints depend on the principal’s state. As mentioned before, the form cannot be legal without attesters and a notary. On the following page, they have to specify the date of signature, the city and the state where the form is acknowledged, the signed name of the principal (can be an eSign), and their printed name, followed by the information of the agent(s).

If the notary witnesses the document, they will fill the necessary form fields themselves. In another case, if the witnesses are present, they have to fill in their contact information, date of signing, and addresses and sign the form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a living will override a medical POA?

Yes, a living will is a more exact application that outlines the principal’s desires for caring methods. In this case, the proxy operates according to explicitly specified applicant regulations. In contrast, a POA specifies the constraints of the agent concerning the principal’s health care issues.

At which moment does the healthcare directive start working?

This document comes into effect only after the principal’s primary doctor gives an official statement about incapacitation (caused by coma, stroke, dementia, etc.). Thus, if the principal returns to normal health conditions, the agent’s rights will be revoked in terms of the form.

Will my husband have a power of attorney automatically?

Yes, spouses are empowered to be agents until the court decides otherwise or unless there are no other clarifications in the POA.

What can happen if there is no POA?

In each state, the rules for defining a responsible person in the case of POA absence differ. For example, in North Carolina, the distribution of priority in deciding is as follows:

  1. The healthcare agent listed in the POA;
  2. Court-assigned guardian;
  3. Attorney-in-fact (appointed by any other type of POA);
  4. Patient’s spouse;
  5. Patient’s parent(s) or adult children;
  6. Patient’s adult sibling(s);
  7. Patient’s close friend who can reasonably tell what one wants;
  8. Patient’s primary doctor.