Medical power of attorney refers to the legal authority to make medical decisions for someone else. An official medical power of attorney form allows you (the principal) to choose someone (the agent) to make medical decisions for you in the event that you can’t make those decisions for yourself.
A medical power of attorney differs from a living will, which is a document used to detail one’s own wishes regarding the medical care they receive.
Table of Contents
- What is a Missouri Health Care Power of Attorney?
- Who Should Have a Missouri Medical Power of Attorney?
- How to Select Your Attorney(s) in Fact
- Decision Making Power of Your Attorney(s) in Fact
- What to do if You Change Your Mind
- How to Complete Your Missouri Medical Power of Attorney
1. What is a Missouri Health Care Power of Attorney?
A Missouri Medical Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint an “attorney in fact” to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. This document will come into effect in the event you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your medical wishes.
Before you draft your Missouri Health Care Power of Attorney, it’s important for you to understand the following key terms.
- Attorney in fact: An individual or corporation appointed to act as your agent, as stated in your written power of attorney document.
- Certification: A legal instrument or written entry in your medical record.
- Incapacitated: An individual who, because of a physical or mental condition, is unable to receive and evaluate information or make decisions. Due to a lack of capacity, this individual is unable to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, safety, or other care such that serious physical injury, illness, or disease is likely to occur without the aid of others.
- Patient: The principal of a medical power of attorney. In this document, you are the patient.
- Person: An individual, corporation, or other legal entity.
It’s important to note that a Medical Power of Attorney can also be referred to as a/an:
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
- Health Care Directive
- Advance Directive
2. Who Should Have a Missouri Medical Power of Attorney?
If you’re 18+ and residing in the state of Missouri, you should consider drafting a Missouri Medical Power of Attorney.
Unfortunately, tragedy can strike at any time. Having a completed medical power of attorney will ensure that your medical wishes are carried out and someone you trust is advocating for your care in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make such decisions on your own.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Protect yourself and your loved ones by creating a medical power of attorney today.
3. How to Select Your Attorney(s) in Fact
Selecting your attorney in fact is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
Although the state of Missouri places minimal restrictions on who you can appoint as your attorney in fact, you’ll want to choose someone who is capable of handling the burden of making difficult decisions in a time of crisis.
Furthermore, you should select someone who is knowledgeable of, and willing to follow, your moral, religious, or other beliefs – even if it contradicts their own beliefs.
For many people, the right attorney in fact is a spouse, child, sibling, parent, other family member, or close friend.
Who Can’t be Your Attorney in Fact?
According to MO Rev Stat § 404.815, the following parties can’t serve as your attorney in fact, unless you’re related to them by blood or marriage, or you two are a part of the same religious community:
- Your attending physician
- An employee of your attending physician
- An owner, operator, or employee of a healthcare facility in which you are a resident
Can You Have More Than One Attorney in Fact?
According to MO Rev Stat § 404.707, you’re able to appoint multiple attorneys in fact on your medical power of attorney document. In the event you appoint two or more attorneys in fact, you’re required to specify whether their authority is to be exercised jointly or separately.
In addition to appointing multiple attorneys in fact, MO Rev Stat § 404.723 entitles you to designate one or more successor attorneys in fact. A successor attorney in fact will assume decision making responsibility in the event your primary attorney(s) in fact resigns, dies, becomes disabled or incapacitated, is not qualified, or refuses to act.
4. Decision Making Power of Your Attorney(s) in Fact
In the event you become incapacitated, your attorney in fact will have authority over your healthcare and post-death decisions. For example, as stated in MOV Rev Stat § 404.710, your attorney in fact is authorized to:
- Give consent to or prohibit any type of healthcare, medical care, treatment or procedure to the extent authorized by Sections 404.800 to 404.865.
- Provide or withhold consent to an autopsy or postmortem examination of your body.
- Make or prohibit an anatomical gift, of all or part of your body under the Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.
- Exercise the right to choose and control the burial, cremation, or other final disposition of your remains.
However, in accordance with MOV Rev Stat § 404.822, before making any healthcare decisions – including those regarding a preexisting condition – your attorney in fact must seek out and consider information concerning your medical diagnosis, prognosis, as well as the benefits and burdens of the treatment.
Furthermore, MOV Rev Stat § 404.820 specifies that if you want your attorney in fact to have the authority to withhold or withdraw artificially supplied nutrition and hydration, you must specifically grant such authority in your Missouri Medical Power of Attorney.
Before your attorney in fact or your physician may authorize the withdrawal of artificial nutrition or hydration, your physician must either:
- Try to explain the intention and consequences of withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration to you. Provide an opportunity for you to refuse the withdrawal, or
- File a certification in your medical records stating that you are comatose or consistently in a condition making it impossible for you to understand the intention to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration and the consequences.
It’s important to note that under MOV Rev Stat § 404.830, your physician, nurse, other healthcare provider, or employee of a healthcare facility may refuse a medical decision made by your attorney in fact on the following grounds:
- The decision is contrary to your religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions.
- The decision is contrary to the facility’s institutional policy based on religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions – unless the facility received a copy of the medical power of attorney before starting the current series of treatments or confinement.
What Healthcare Decisions is Your Attorney in Fact Unable to Make?
According to MOV Rev Stat § 404.820-2, your attorney in fact is unable to authorize the withdrawal of naturally indigestible nutrition or hydration with the intent of killing you.
If you wish for your agent to also have non-medical decision-making powers, such as powers relating to financial and property transactions, you can use a Missouri power of attorney form.
When is Your Attorney in Fact Able to Begin Making Decisions on Your Behalf?
As stated in MOV Rev Stat § 404.825, your attorney in fact is only able to begin making medical decisions on your behalf after two licensed physicians complete a certification stating your incapacitation.
According to MOV Rev Stat § 404.825, two physicians must conduct an examination that concludes you are currently incapacitated and that you will continue to be incapacitated for a period of time during which treatment decisions will be required. The certification must be filled in your medical records and periodically reviewed by your attending physician.
5. What to do if You Change Your Mind
How Long is Your Medical Power of Attorney Effective?
Your Missouri Health Care Power of Attorney is effective indefinitely, unless you choose to revoke your document.
How to Revoke a Medical Power of Attorney
Pursuant to MOV Rev Stat § 404.850, you may revoke your Missouri Medical Power of Attorney at any time, and in any manner in which you’re able to communicate your intention to revoke.
Your revocation is effective as soon as you communicate it to your attorney in fact, attending physician, or healthcare provider. Your attending physician or other healthcare provider is required to record the revocation in your medical records.
Alternatively, executing a new medical power of attorney revokes any prior medical power of attorney document you have completed.
6. How to Complete Your Missouri Medical Power of Attorney
Do You Need a Witness / Notary Public Signatures?
In order for your Missouri Health Care Power of Attorney to be legally effective, you must sign the document in the presence of a notary public and at least two witnesses. The names and addresses of your witnesses must be recorded on your medical power of attorney form.
What to do with Your Signed Medical Power of Attorney
Once your medical power of attorney is signed, you should file a copy in your personal records, and distribute a copy to:
- Your attorney(s) in fact and successor attorney(s) in fact
- Your primary physician and any other healthcare providers you have
- Any healthcare institutions at which you’re receiving care
- Any loved ones you’d like to be informed of your decision
A medical power of attorney will save you and your loved ones from stress and uncertainty in the event of a crisis. Don’t take any chances with your healthcare, create a Missouri Medical Power of Attorney today.