A Medical Power of Attorney is a document created to permit an individual to legally designate themselves an official representative. This legal representative will have the right to decide upon what may happen to the individual, what treatments they receive and any other crucial questions that could arise at any point. However, the legal representative only gains the rights outlined in a Power of Attorney for Medical Decisions when the individual who gave these rights is no longer fit to make such decisions independently which is usually due to poor health.
However, in order to safeguard the individual who has delegated such rights, they must detail a preferential guide for the way they want to be treated and include this in a separate document. This will prevent the individual with newly obtained powers from using these powers to cause harm or go against the wishes and beliefs of the individual who initially drafted the document.
A Medical Power of Attorney for a Child is also possible where an individual gains powers to make medical choices for a child. However, in this case, it is also important to understand that the parents of the child will still hold the same rights.
Medical Power of Attorney Forms may vary between states. The main differences will often relate to the signing procedures and laws surrounding this in each state. In some states, it may be compulsory to have a notary public witness the signing whilst in others, only witnesses would be required. There are also states where you would need both the notary public and witnesses present. However, in some states, there are no legal procedures relating to this and in such cases, the presence of a notary public will most likely be recommended.
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In simple terms, a Medical Power of Attorney allows a person (referred to as a principal) to designate themselves a trusted individual (known as an agent), giving them the power to communicate with healthcare professionals and make choices in the name of the principal when they are no longer able to. The agent selected must defend the best interests of the principal and execute treatment exactly as the principal would have wanted.
This is a big responsibility so it is crucial that the named agent must be someone extremely trustworthy. This is why in the majority of cases, the principal will select a close family member or sometimes a close friend to be their agent and represent them if needs be.
Getting a Medical Power of Attorney is a relatively simple procedure and will not take up too much of your time. You could start by obtaining a Medical Power of Attorney Form template specific to your state. These templates will contain all of the necessary information and will follow the correct structure, using the correct language. All that you would need to do is just simply enter the details specific to you and your selected agent. Another advantage of this is that by using state specific templates, they will take into account any state laws and all of this information will be incorporated and reflected within the document – particularly information regarding the signing of the document, which varies between states.
Once you have found a template for your state, you should edit it and include the required personal information of the principal and of the selected agent. Make sure to sign the documents appropriately, apart from both the principal and the agent you may also need a notary public and/or a witness/witnesses.
You must ensure that you pick a reliable agent. This agent needs to accept your offer and you should clearly specify in writing what choices they are within right to make for you. You should also think about attaching a Living Will to this document. The number of agents that a principal can choose will again vary with the state. Some states allow for up to 2 agents to be chosen whilst others may allow up to 3.
A Medical Power of Attorney does not immediately come into effect once it has been signed. It will only come into effect in the instance that the principal is no longer in a fit state of mind to make appropriate medical decisions for themselves. This has to be determined by a healthcare professional. There can be several reasons for this including going through an illness that leaves the principal with no way to communicate (such as a stroke), entering a comatose state, or developing a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer’s.
Once it is clear that the principal can no longer make these decisions, the agent can step in and will have the right to make important medical decisions. However, if the principal is of sound mind they have the right to terminate any existing Medical Power of Attorney.
Writing up a Medical Power of Attorney is straightforward, particularly if you opt to use an editable template. We have created a shortlist of things to include in the document to ensure that you do not miss off any crucial elements which can be found below:
Still looking for a particular template? Take a look at the related templates below: