Medical Power of Attorney

Your Medical Power of Attorney empowers your Agent
or Attorney-In-Fact to make health-care or personal care decisions on your behalf.

The free legal form supplied here is a conventional durable medical power of attorney. However, it can be written to expire on a certain date. For example: you may be going on an adventure with a fellow traveler and want that person to act as your Agent for the duration of the trip, should it become necessary.

emergency room

Medical Power of Attorney - Legal Terms and Requirements

NOTE: It may also be called a Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney for Personal Matters / Care.

Whatever the document or Agent is called in your state or country, the following requirements for your medical or health care power of attorney are universal:

medical personnel and heartbeat

  • Your appointed Agent must be of legal age and can be a family member or trusted friend.

    Your Agent must not be a doctor, because for them making a choice between acting as your Agent or as a physician can create conflict.
  • Your Agent must not be anybody associated with your health care providers such as a hospital, nursing home, therapist, social worker etc. or anyone being paid by you for services such as your landlord.
  • You must include a statement that you revoke any previous medical POA should it exist.
  • Witnesses must be of legal age and not related to the Agent or person making the power of attorney.
  • You can revoke the medical POA at any time - always advisable to do so in writing.
  • You can appoint more than one Agent - be sure to specify whether they must always make decisions jointly, or if they can make decisions jointly and severally. Consider the practicality and possibility of conflict before you decide.
  • It is always a good idea to appoint an alternative or substitute agent should your first choice be unable or unwilling to serve.
  • You are always in charge of your health care decisions until such time that you become incapacitated and only for the duration of incapacity. If you are capable of making your own choices, then your agent will not have authority to overrule your decisions.

The authority granted to your Agent to make Personal Care decisions for you relates to issues such as where you will live or which foods you do not wish to eat. You can be as specific as you wish in your instructions e.g. you wish to live in your own home for as long as possible, you want a personal carer to be of the same gender as you, etc.

Your Agent will also have the right to be fully informed about your medical condition, in order to make decisions about treatment, surgery, medication, specialized facitlities etc.

Do I need to File a Medical Power of Attorney in a Government Office?

No. Generally speaking, it will only be necessary for real estate transactions to have the Power of Attorney recorded in the County Clerk's / Deeds office.

However, it is important to give copies of your Medical POA to your physician, attending health care workers and to your appointed agent and your family members. And should you be hospitalised or enter a health care facility, a copy of your health proxy should be added to your medical records.

Note: The original signed document should be kept in a secure place (not a safe deposit box) where it can be accessed should the need arise.

As an aside, some financial institutions may object to a financial power of attorney not filed with them, using their standardised form! You need to make sure your document will be accepatable.

elderly lady with health worker

Who Should be Appointed as Healthcare Power of Attorney for Elderly People?

It must be noted that (in most jurisdictions) legally married spouses are automatically authorised to speak on behalf of one another, unless that authority has been conferred to another person (an adult child, for example) through a Power of Attorney.

And in case of divorce, your spouse will automatically lose this right. If you want your spouse to continue to act as your agent, even in case of divorce, you need to specify that you do not want this automatic revocation of his/her authority.

Siblings should have an open discussion amongst themselves and with their parents. Who is available and in the best position to take on this responsibility? Appointing one person with the legal authority to act can lessen a lot of heartache and problems during a crisis.

Can I Add a Do Not Resuscitate Order to a Medical Power of Attorney Form?

No. Only a physician can actually give this order - duly signed - so attending medical personnel can withhold CPR without fear of liability. You can express it as an advance directive (not a legal order) in your Living Will.

You can give detailed instructions on the free medical power of attorney form as to which treatment you do or do not want or you can complete the separate free living will form and make reference to it in your power of attorney as an attachment.

For links to other sample POA documents as well as additional legal information, please visit our Main Power of Attorney Page.

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