Table of Contents
- Download a South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney Sample
- The Basics: What is a South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney?
- Who Should have a South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney?
- How to Select Your Agent(s)
- Decision Making Power of Your Agent(s)
- What to do if You Change Your Mind
- How to Complete Your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney
1. Download a South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney Sample
2. The Basics: What is a South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney?
A South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that determines how you will be cared for in the event of an illness or injury that leaves you incapacitated. Additionally, this document allows you to establish an agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Although outlining your end-of-life wishes can be an emotionally draining task, it’s well worth the peace of mind it will grant you and your loved ones. You can take solace knowing that you, as well as your trusted agent, hold full control over your medical future.
As you complete your health care power of attorney, you should familiarize yourself with the following key terms:
- Agent: The Individual you designate in your health care power of attorney document to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
- Incapacity: The inability to evaluate information, make decisions, or communicate those decisions.
- Life-sustaining procedure: Any medical intervention or procedure that is intended only to prolong the process of dying. These procedures do not include the use of pain-relieving medications or other efforts to make patients more comfortable.
- Principal: An individual 18+ years of age and of sound mind who executes a health care power of attorney document in South Carolina.
- Permanent unconsciousness: A medical diagnosis indicating that you will remain permanently in either a vegetative state or in a condition where your neocortex no longer functions.
These key terms and others are clearly outlined in Section 62-5-500 of the South Carolina Statutory Health Care Power of Attorney Act.
For your reference, a health care power of attorney can also be referred to as a/an:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Health Care Proxy
- Advance Directive
3. Who Should have a South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney?
Every South Carolina resident over the age of 18 should consider creating a health care power of attorney.
Although typically associated with elderly or ill individuals, a health care power of attorney will provide you valuable protection — regardless of your age or health status.
Many people are motivated to draft this document in response to a significant life event. Such events include (but are not limited to) marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, or diagnosis of an illness. However, you don’t need to wait for one of these developments to spur you into action.
Although it’s difficult to think about, an unpredicted event that leaves you incapacitated can occur at any time. Having a completed South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney form will ensure you’re prepared for any circumstance that may arise.
4. How to Select Your Agent(s)
Selecting a healthcare agent is a difficult decision. Not everyone is capable of handling the immense responsibility associated with being your agent. If you were to become incapacitated, this person would be responsible for making difficult decisions regarding your medical future — everything from healthcare treatments to life-sustaining procedures.
Who to Select as Your Agent:
According to S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-504, your agent is required to be 18+ years of age and of sound mind.
Along with age and mental capacity, you should feel confident that your agent will:
- Act in good faith. Your agent should follow the instructions in your document and avoid conflicts of interest. Your health and well-being should always be your agent’s top priority.
- Act against personal convictions. Regardless of whether your healthcare wishes go against your agent’s beliefs, he or she must carry out your instructions.
- Handle the burden of making difficult decisions. Even the most steadfast individuals may struggle to make medical decisions on your behalf. Consider how your preferred agent will act under pressure.
Who Can’t be Your Agent:
As stated in S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-504-6a, the following individuals are restricted from acting as your health care agent:
- A doctor or other healthcare provider currenting providing you with treatment
- An employee of your doctor or healthcare provider
- A spouse of your doctor, healthcare provider, or employee — unless the person is a relative of yours
Can You Have More Than One Agent?
According to S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-511, you’re allowed to name one or more persons to act as successor agents on your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney form.
A successor agent will be authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event your initial agent dies, becomes disabled, resigns, refuses to act, is unavailable, or if you choose to divorce or separate from a spouse acting as your agent.
Your successor agent will inherit all powers, responsibilities, and limitations previously held by your primary agent.
5. Decision Making Power of Your Agent(s)
According to S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-504, upon signing your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney form, you grant your agent full authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. For example, your agent is authorized to:
- Consent, refuse, or withdraw consent to any and all types of medical care, treatment, medication, surgical procedures, diagnostic measures, life-sustaining treatment, etc.
- Authorize or refuse to authorize medication or procedure(s) meant to relieve pain.
- Access records related to your medical care and disclose them to others.
- Authorize your admission to or discharge from a hospital, nursing, or similar care facility — even against medical advice.
- Sign documents on your behalf. For example, a release from liability required by a healthcare facility or provider.
- Hire and fire medical, social service, and other support personnel responsible for your care.
What Limitations can be Imposed on Your Agent’s Powers?
Your agent’s power is subject to any limitations or statements of desire you’ve included in your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney form. For example, you may choose to outline your preferences regarding:
- Organ donation
- Natural death
- Life-sustaining treatment
- Tube feeding
- Comfort and treatment issues
- Disposal of your body after death
- Administration of medical treatments
It’s important to note that if you fail to outline your desires concerning life-sustaining treatments, your agent will lack the authority to withhold or withdraw artificial hydration or nutrition intended for pain alleviation or comfort care (S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-503-b).
Furthermore, if you possess a valid Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death, in accordance with Chapter 77, Title 44, your agent’s decision-making ability is limited to situations in which this declaration does not apply.
Note that if you’re pregnant, your agent cannot withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures during the course of your pregnancy, as outlined in S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-507.
6. What to do if You Change Your Mind
Although your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney is legally binding, it’s not set in stone. According to S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-512, you have the right to revoke your health care power of attorney at any time by:
- Expressing your intent to revoke in writing or in an oral statement to your agent or healthcare provider
- Any other act constituting your intention to revoke expressed to your agent or healthcare provider
- Creating a subsequent health care power of attorney document, which is inconsistent with the previous iteration
- Creating a subsequent durable power of attorney in accordance with Article 8, Title 62, if the document states an intention to revoke or is inconsistent with the health care power of attorney document
Upon being informed of your revocation or intent to revoke, your healthcare provider must record this action in your medical records. At this time, your healthcare provider is charged with informing your agent, your attending physician, and other providers responsible for your care.
7. How to Complete Your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney
According to S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-503, your health care power of attorney is required to substantially follow the format outlined in Section 62-5-504. Your document must include your agent’s name and contact information.
Your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney becomes valid once signed not only by yourself, but also by two witnesses. S.C. Code Ann. § 62-5-504 states that the following persons cannot act as your witness:
- Your spouse
- A person who is your lineal descendant (child, grandchild, etc.), or their spouse
- A person who is your lineal ancestor (parent, grandparent, etc.), or their spouse
- Your sibling(s), their lineal descendants, or their spouse
- A person directly financially responsible for your medical care
- A person who is entitled to a portion of your estate as named in your will or by intestate succession
- A beneficiary of your life insurance policy
- A person named as your healthcare agent or a successor agent
- Your attending physician or one of their employees
- A person who has a claim against your estate upon your death
In addition to the individuals named above, if you’re currently a patient in a health facility, no more than one witness may be an employee of the facility.
It’s recommended that you include a signature on your health care power of attorney form, but it’s not required.
Your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney form will play a key role in saving you and your loved ones from unwanted stress and potential legal hassle. By removing uncertainty surrounding your future healthcare, this powerful document offers valuable peace of mind for everyone involved.
Don’t wait until it’s too late–create your South Carolina Health Care Power of Attorney form today.