How To Use
This is literally a “life and death” issue for you. Treat it seriously accordingly.
You are turning your fate over to others if you elect to sign it.
Except to the extent you state otherwise, this document gives the person you name as your Agent the authority to make any and all health care decisions for you when you are no longer capable of making them yourself. “Health care” means any treatment, service or procedure to maintain, diagnose or treat your physical or mental condition.
Your Agent, therefore, can have the power to make a broad range of health care decisions for you. Your Agent may consent, refuse to consent, or withdraw consent to medical treatment and may make decisions about withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment.
Your Agent cannot consent or direct any of the following: commitment to a state institution, sterilization, or termination of treatment if you are pregnant and if the withdrawal of that treatment is deemed likely to terminate the pregnancy unless the failure to withhold the treatment will be physically harmful to you or prolong severe pain which cannot be alleviated by medication.
You may modify this document to indicate any treatment you do not desire, except as stated above, or treatment you want to be sure you receive. Your Agent’s authority will begin when your doctor certifies that you lack the capacity to make health care decisions.
If for moral or religious reasons you do not wish to be treated by a doctor or examined by a doctor for the certification that you lack capacity, you must say so in the document and name a person to be able to certify your lack of capacity. That person may not be your Agent or Alternate Agent or any person ineligible to be your Agent.
If you want to give your Agent authority to withhold or withdraw the artificial providing of nutrition and fluids, your document must say so. Otherwise, your Agent will not be able to direct that. Under no conditions will your Agent be able to direct the withholding of food and drink for you to eat and drink normally.
Your Agent will be obligated to follow your instructions when making decisions on your behalf. Unless you state otherwise, your Agent will have the same authority to make decisions about your health care as you would have had if made consistent with state law. If any of the above concerns you, don’t sign the document.
It is important that you discuss this document with your physician or other health care providers, as well as your lawyer before you sign it to make sure that you understand the nature and range of decisions, which may be made, on your behalf. If you do not have a physician, you should talk with someone else who is knowledgeable about these issues and can answer your questions.
The person you appoint as your Agent should be someone you know and trust and must be at least 18 years old. If you appoint your health or residential care provider (e.g., your physician, or an employee of a home health agency, hospital, nursing home, or residential care home, other than a relative), that person will have to choose between acting as your Agent or as your health or residential care provider; the law does not permit a person to do both at the same time, for obvious reasons to protect your own interests.
You should consult the individual you would like to appoint in advance of signing this document so that they can affirmatively tell you the will be willing to undertake this possible life and death responsibility to act as your Health Care Agent.
If they elect to not undertake this responsibility, thank them and find another prospect Agent and repeat the process until you find someone willing to act in this serious capacity on your behalf. Whatever you do, do not surprise someone with this responsibility.
You should discuss this document with your agreed upon Agent and your physician and give each a signed copy. You should indicate on the document itself the people and institutions that will have signed copies. Your Agent will not be liable for health care decisions made in good faith on your behalf.
Even after you have signed this document, you have the right to make health care decisions for yourself as long as you are able to do so, and treatment cannot be given to you or stopped over your objection.
You have the right to revoke the authority granted to your Agent by informing him or her or your health care provider orally or in writing. If you get cold feet later, we have provided a revocation document in this Agreement. You may revoke the Agreement just to appoint another Agent, as circumstances dictate or your life or their life changes to make it inappropriate for them to act on your behalf.
We strongly recommend you appoint someone significantly younger than yourself as Agent if you elect to sign this Agreement, to avoid, or at least increase the odds, of them predeceasing you or having serious health problems themselves which would prohibit them acting appropriately on your behalf.
This document may not be changed or modified. If you want to make changes in the document you must make an entirely new one. This includes, but is not limited to, appointing a new Agent as discussed above.
You should consider designating an Alternate Agent in the event that your Agent is unwilling, unable, unavailable, or ineligible to act as your Agent. Any Alternate Agent you designate will have the same authority to make health care decisions for you
This power of attorney will not be effective unless signed in the presence of 2 or more qualified witnesses. The following people may not act as witnesses: the nominated Agent or Alternate Agent; your spouse; any lawful heirs or beneficiaries named in your will or deed.
Only one of the two witnesses may be your related in any way or capacity to your health or residential care provider for obvious conflict of interest reasons and your personal protection by the law and statute.
Many states require that each provision is separately initialed. Since this has become the standard, you should consider it an absolute requirement to initial each and every paragraph or sign it in full, if you so prefer.
To be on the safe side, initial each and every page of this document to prevent page substitution and prevent that assertion being made in any court of law. In addition, indicate who is on the copy list so those copies are accounted for, and, if necessary, can be retrieved for purposes of authentication, modification, or revocation.
Reasons for an Update or Revocation
- You change your mind for any reason whatsoever.
- You learn you have a terminal condition after signing this health care directive. This will provide an opportunity to restate or change your wishes in light of your new health status.
- Change or set limits on the medical care that is provided.
- Respond to changing medical technology.
- Respond to a change in health care laws.
- Respond to a change in health, including pregnancy.
- Life circumstances suggest appointing a different Agent.
- Many more. Do not be reluctant to modify this Agreement should you so desire.
We strongly recommend you speak to your lawyer and clergyman about these decisions to be sure you are comfortable with them. This is literally a “life and death” situation. It bears serious discussion with those you trust most.