A Rhode Island Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows you to designate an agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
This document does not remove your right to make decisions if you can consent to medical procedures. However, if you cannot make or communicate these decisions, your agent makes these decisions for you.
Laws: Chapter 23-4.10 of Title 23: Health and Safety govern the creation of a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare in Rhode Island.
Other documents you may wish to execute along with your Medical Power of Attorney include:
- Living Will: It instructs your doctor whether to withhold life-sustaining medical procedures should you face a terminal condition. You can specify other preferences and details for life-sustaining treatment through Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).
- RI (Financial) Power of Attorney: This form allows you to appoint an agent to conduct your financial, real estate, or even small business transactions when you cannot do so yourself.
How to Fill in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A valid Rhode Island Healthcare Power of Attorney form needs to meet the requirements of RI Gen § 23-4.10-2 to 23.4.10-12. Follow these steps to ensure your power of attorney document is effective and legally binding.
Download a Free Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Step 1: Choose an agent
Your agent or health care proxy is an individual who makes medical decisions for you if you cannot consent to treatment due to incapacity or inability to communicate.
Who should you choose as an agent?
Your healthcare agent should be at least 18 years of age and a resident of Rhode Island.
Your agent should be a person who has knowledge and understanding of your wishes and holds religious or moral beliefs similar to yours. Otherwise, you risk future medical treatment being contrary to your interests.
Relevant Law: RI Gen L § 23-4.10-2
Who can’t be your agent?
Your agent cannot be any of the following:
- Your treating healthcare provider
- An employee of your treating healthcare provider (unless they are a relative)
- The operator of a community care facility
- An employee of a community care facility (unless they are a relative)
Can you have more than one agent?
You can choose up to two alternative agents if your primary choice cannot perform the duties specified in the medical power of attorney. Alternative agents gain authority in the order you list them on the document.
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
Yes. You write statements limiting agent powers in your MPOA.
For example, you may wish to limit communication with unsupportive family members or state that you do not want your organs or tissues donated after your death.
What is your agent legally unable to do?
Your agent cannot make decisions concerning:
- Pregnancy termination
- Treatment contrary to your wishes
- Any illegal medical treatment
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
Your agent can start making decisions for you when you can no longer consent to medical treatment or express your wishes about the course of treatment or life-sustaining measures.
Step 3: Sign the form
You must sign and date the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare to be effective.
If you are physically unable to create a signature, a mark will suffice since Rhode Island requires witnesses or a notary. Currently, there are no provisions authorizing digital or electronic signatures.
Do you need a witness or notary signatures?
Yes. In order to be valid, the document must contain the date, your signature, and:
- Signatures of two witnesses over the age of 18; or
- Signature and acknowledgment of a notary public.
Who can’t be a witness?
At least one of the witnesses cannot be:
- Related to you by marriage, adoption, or blood
- A beneficiary of your estate should you pass away
Neither witness can be:
- A person designated as a primary or alternative agent
- Your healthcare provider
- An employee of your healthcare provider
- The operator of a community care facility
- An employee of an operator of a community care facility
How long is your Power of Attorney for Healthcare effective in Rhode Island?
Your Power of Attorney for Healthcare is adequate until:
- You revoke it, or
- The expiration date you indicate on the document (this is optional)
How to Revoke a Rhode Island Power of Attorney for Health Care
You can revoke a Medical Power of Attorney at any time or in any manner as long as you can communicate a desire to revoke it. You can do this by:
- Expressing the desire to an attending physician or other health care provider
- Communicating the desire to your agent
- Executing a new medical power of attorney
Relevant Law: RI Gen L § 23-4.10-3