In Vermont, completing a medical power of attorney or advance directive allows you (the principal) to authorize an individual to act as your healthcare representative and make medical decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself.
The person acting as your medical power of attorney may also be called your agent, surrogate, or attorney.
Laws: The laws governing creating and maintaining a power of attorney are covered in Chapter 231 (Advance Directives For Health Care, Disposition Of Remains, And Surrogate Decision Making) of the Vermont Statutes.
If you’re creating a medical power of attorney, the following documents may also be useful to you:
- Living Will: This document records the principal’s preferences for end-of-life treatment.
- Vermont (Financial) Power of Attorney: This document allows the principal to appoint a representative to manage their financial affairs. This type of power of attorney can either take effect immediately or when the principal becomes incapacitated.
How To Fill In a Medical Power OF Attorney In Vermont
Follow the steps below to ensure that your medical power of attorney is legally binding in Vermont.
Step 1: Choose an agent
Who should you choose as an agent?
You may choose any adult to act as your agent. Ideally, you should choose a trusted friend or family member as they will be acting in your capacity as the decision-maker for your medical needs, including the right to refuse treatment.
Who can’t be your agent?
Your agent cannot be a minor (i.e., under 18 years of age).
Can you have more than one agent?
While you cannot have more than one agent, you can appoint a successor agent who would step in for the originally appointed individual should that person be unable or unwilling to serve.
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
Carefully decide which powers to give your agent.
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
Yes, within the medical power of attorney document, you may eliminate or restrict specific actions you do not want the agent to take. The agent will only be authorized to make decisions on your behalf within limits set in the document.
What is your agent legally unable to do?
Your agent cannot do anything unauthorized within the power of attorney document. Also, they cannot take any illegal action under federal, state, or local law.
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
You have two options for when your agent may begin taking action on your behalf:
- Immediately upon the execution of the medical power of attorney document
- When you become mentally or physically incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself
Relevant law: 18 V.S.A. § 9706
Step 3: Sign the form
Do you need a witness or notary signatures?
Two adults must witness the signing to execute a durable power of attorney form in Vermont legally.
Who can’t be a witness?
The signature of a power of attorney document cannot be witnessed by a minor under 18. The agent and the principal’s spouse, parents, siblings, or children are also ineligible to be witnesses.
How long is your Vermont medical power of attorney effective?
Your Vermont medical power of attorney remains intact until your (principal’s) death unless one of the following events happens:
- You have included an end date for the medical power of attorney
- A guardianship is established on behalf of the principal
- A judge removes the medical power of attorney, or
- The medical power of attorney is revoked
Relevant law: 18 V.S.A. § 9703 and 18 V.S.A. § 9704
How to Revoke a Vermont Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney can be revoked by completing and notarizing a revocation of power of attorney. The completed document should be delivered to the agent, releasing them of their duties as of the effective date indicated on the document. The principal should also provide the attending physician and any others impacted by the revocation notice with the release of a power of attorney.
The principal can also revoke a Vermont medical power of attorney by:
- personally informing the treating clinician (who then has to record it in writing), and
- physically destroying the medical power of attorney document, such as by tearing or burning it
Also, a medical power of attorney is automatically revoked if the principal creates a new medical power of attorney.
Relevant law: 18 V.S.A. § 9704