A Missouri medical power of attorney (MPOA) is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make important decisions about your healthcare if you’re unable to communicate.
A medical power of attorney form protects your wishes by allowing the person you choose, the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” to carry out your instructions for care and treatment and make decisions in your best interest.
In Missouri, this document can also be called a:
- Missouri Health Care Power of Attorney
- Missouri Medical POA
Laws: Title XXVI, Chapter 404, Sections 404.800-404.865 of the Missouri Revised Statutes addresses the creation of medical powers of attorney.
Consider the following documents to help you record other aspects of your end-of-life wishes:
- Living Will: A living will is a type of advance directive that lets you leave instructions about your health care wishes, which your doctor and MPOA agent must follow.
- Missouri (Financial) Power of Attorney: The financial power of attorney lets someone you choose make important financial decisions if you are unable to do so. This can include writing and cashing checks, paying bills, filing legal paperwork, etc.
How to Fill in a Medical Power of Attorney in Missouri
Use these instructions to fill in a Missouri medical power of attorney form according to MO Rev Stat §404.800-404.865:
Step 1: Choose an agent
Your agent, also called your attorney-in-fact, will step in if you lose the capacity to make medical decisions.
Who should you choose as an agent?
Your agent should be someone you trust completely who clearly understands your values, beliefs, and desires for medical care, especially regarding end-of-life care.
Who can’t be your agent?
Your agent can’t be:
- Your attending physician
- The employee of your attending physician
- An owner, operator, or employee of a healthcare facility where you’re receiving treatment
These restrictions don’t apply if the above individuals are related to you or both you and the individual are active, serving members of the same religious community.
Relevant law: MO Rev Stat §404.815
Can you have more than one agent?
Yes, you can have multiple agents. You can decide whether your agents should make decisions jointly or separately. If you choose the latter, you can give each agent different powers and responsibilities.
You can also name successor agents to take over if your primary agent is unable to fulfill their duties.
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
As you fill the form, think about what medical affairs you want your agent to be responsible for during incapacitation.
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
Yes, you can restrict your agent from making certain decisions on your behalf. You can also leave specific instructions that your agent and doctor must follow, for example, “I do not want my organs to be donated after my death.”
If you don’t limit your agent’s powers, they’ll be able to make a variety of important medical decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated, including:
- Consenting to medical treatments
- Deciding which medicines you take
- Authorizing an autopsy after death
- Choosing a residential care facility
What is your agent legally unable to do?
In every decision they make on your behalf, your agent is required by law to consult with medical professionals about your diagnosis and act according to your wishes (or in your best interest if your wishes are unknown).
Missouri law is specific about the following restrictions on health care agents’ powers:
- Your agent can’t withhold or withdraw artificial nutrition or hydration unless you specifically authorize it in your medical power of attorney document.
- Your agent can’t designate another person to act as your agent unless you authorize it in the medical power of attorney.
- Your agent (or doctor) can’t authorize the withdrawal of artificial nutrition or hydration until they either:
- Explain the consequences and give you a chance to refuse the withdrawal, or
- File a certification that your condition makes it impossible for you to understand an attempt to communicate this choice.
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
Unless you include a start date in the document, a Missouri MPOA goes into effect when you’re incapacitated and can’t make health care decisions for yourself. Missouri law requires two certified physicians to declare you incapacitated before the medical power of attorney takes effect.
Relevant law: MO Rev Stat §404.825
Step 3: Sign the form
Sign your form according to these Missouri requirements:
Do you need witness or notary signatures?
Yes, in Missouri, you need to sign the medical power of attorney document in the presence of a notary public. If you create an advance directive in addition to your medical power of attorney, two witnesses need to sign the directive for it to be legally binding.
Who can’t be a witness?
Missouri law doesn’t have any witness requirements, but they should be an adult who can confirm you’re signing willingly and free of undue influence.
How long is your Missouri medical power of attorney effective?
Your medical POA is effective indefinitely until you revoke it, but your agent’s powers don’t go into effect until you’re found to be incapacitated.
Relevant law: MO Rev Stat §404.850
How to Revoke a Missouri Medical Power of Attorney
You can revoke a Missouri medical power of attorney at any time by communicating the revocation to your agent or health care provider. If you wish to have a written record of it, you can complete a revocation of power of attorney form.
If you execute a new medical power of attorney, any prior versions are automatically revoked unless the new document specifies otherwise.
Relevant law: MO Rev Stat §404.850