Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney (or MPOA) is a form of advanced medical or healthcare directive that authorizes a named agent or attorney-in-fact to follow certain instructions you give or to make decisions regarding your health and end-of-life decisions. Anyone who is at least 18 years of age and mentally competent can create an MPOA. Creating an MPOA allows your family to access your medical records and make healthcare decisions for you without having to get appointed as your guardian by a court. You can revoke or change your MPOA at any time, but because it is “durable,” your appointed agent will continue being able to speak on your behalf even if you become disabled.
Although you can specify that your MPOA only goes into effect after a doctor has determined that you are disabled, you may want to consider having it go into effect immediately upon signing. In the event that you are unexpectedly rendered unable to speak for yourself, requiring a disability diagnosis can create a substantial barrier to your agent being able to act on your behalf in what would likely be an emergency.
You should not assume that your immediate family members will be able to speak on your behalf without an MPOA. Many medical facilities are extremely reluctant to speak openly about medical issues with anyone but the patient due to stringent federal privacy laws.
Contents of a MPOA
You can include the following in your MPOA:
- The name of the agent and an alternate if the first is deceased, incapacitated, or declines to assume the responsibility
- Instructions as to which doctor, hospital, or other facility you wish to be treated at
- Your preferences for how you wish to be treated in an end-of-life situation (this should be carefully coordinated with your living will)
- Instructions as to whether you would like to donate your organs
Powers of an Agent
An MPOA will enable your agent to discuss your healthcare with your doctors and to have full access to your medical records. Depending on which powers you choose to give to your agent, your agent will be able to choose the medical facility where you will be treated, switch healthcare providers, and make any other medical decisions regarding your care including any concerning life support measures.
How to Make a MPOA
An MPOA is a critical component of any estate plan. Dan McKenzie is a Medical Power of Attorney lawyer who can advise you on how to validly create this document, how to pick the right agent, and which powers to give to him or her. Instructions specific to your medical needs, personal preferences, religious requirements, and other concerns can be added as well.
If you or a loved one for whom you are caring wants an MPOA, be sure that you have one for each state where you or your loved one resides. Some retirees alternate residences during different seasons. An MPOA created in one state may not be accepted in the one where you or your parent suddenly becomes incapacitated.
Although not required in Colorado, we recommend that you get your MPOA notarized. You should provide copies of your MPOA to your loved ones, to your healthcare provider, and to any facility where you are being or may be treated.
Consult the McKenzie Law Firm
Dan McKenzie is a Medical Power of Attorney lawyer who has advised numerous clients regarding these and other documents you should consider having as part of your overall estate plan. An MPOA can provide peace of mind to you and others regarding how to provide for your comfort and medical care during stressful times when you become mentally or physically unable to make these decisions on your own.