A Washington (WA) Medical Power of Attorney lets you designate another person to make health care decisions on your behalf only if you become incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
You might also see this document referred to as Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Medical POA.
Laws: Title 11, chapter 125 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW §11.125.010-11.125.903) regulates the creation of a Medical POA in Washington.
In addition to your Medical Power of Attorney, consider creating the following documents:
- Living Will: A living will is a type of advance directive that lets you describe your preferences for treatment and care if you cannot communicate when a decision needs to be made.
- (Financial) Power of Attorney: A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to manage your property and assets.
How to Fill in a Medical Power of Attorney in Washington
Follow these steps to make sure your form meets all WA State requirements, as laid out in the state laws highlighted above.
Step 1: Choose an agent
If you become incapacitated, your agent, or attorney-in-fact, will be responsible for your healthcare decisions.
Who should you choose as an agent?
The person you choose should be a trusted adult who will act in good faith in making health care decisions that serve your best interest.
Relevant law: RCW §11.125.140
Who can’t be your agent?
Your agent can’t be your physician or an employee, owner, or administrator of the health care facility where you’re receiving treatment.
This limitation doesn’t apply if the person is your spouse, domestic partner, adult child, parent, or sibling.
Relevant law: RCW §11.125.400
Can you have more than one agent?
Yes, you can designate multiple co-agents to make decisions jointly on your behalf if you wish.
You can also select a successor agent to take over if your primary agent resigns or cannot carry out their duties.
Relevant law: RCW §11.125.110
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
Use this section to place any necessary restrictions on your agent’s powers.
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
You can describe what actions your agent may or may not take on your behalf in the MPOA document. You can also leave specific instructions that your agent and doctor must follow: “I want my organs to be donated after my death.”
If you don’t limit your agent’s powers in the document, they can make any decision you would typically make about your health care, including:
- Withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments
- Accessing your medical records to make informed decisions
- Choosing treatments and medications
- Deciding where you receive care
What is your agent legally unable to do?
Your agent can’t do anything that goes against your wishes or isn’t in your best interest. Washington law also specifies that your agent can’t consent to any of the following without a court order:
- Electroconvulsive therapy or another procedure that causes convulsions
- Other mental health treatments that restrict your physical freedom
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
The agent will begin making healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal once the principal becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own.
Relevant law: RCW §11.125.090
Step 3: Sign the form
To make your Medical Power of Attorney valid, you must sign it according to the following WA requirements:
Does a Medical Power of Attorney need to be notarized in Washington?
Yes, to be valid in the state of Washington, your Medical Power of Attorney needs to be signed in the presence of either a notary public or two competent witnesses.
If you’re physically unable to sign, you can direct your notary to sign.
Who can’t be a witness?
Your witnesses must be adult individuals who aren’t related to you or involved with your health care.
This includes your:
- Domestic partner
- Employees of your doctor
- Employees of the facility where you’re receiving care
How long is your Medical Power of Attorney effective in Washington?
Unless you include an end date in the original document, your Medical Power of Attorney will remain effective until revoked or after your death.
Relevant law: RCW §11.125.100
How to Revoke a Washington Medical Power of Attorney
To revoke your Medical Power of Attorney, you need to inform your agent and any healthcare professionals involved in your care. We recommend using a written Revocation of Power of Attorney form to communicate your intentions.
If your spouse is your agent, filing for a divorce or separation automatically revokes their power as your agent.