Any individual who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind may write a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
Discuss your feelings and your use of the person you designate as having Durable Power of Attorney. Talk with family, friends, your physician, your attorney and anyone else who might be affected by your decision.
After talking with your physician, consider the kinds of treatment decisions which might need to be made for you in the future and what your wishes would be.
Designate an individual you trust to act as your advocate when you cannot express your health care wishes. Your advocate will work with your physician((s)) or health care providers to make the same kinds of decisions you could have made for yourself, based upon your wishes. Consider naming a “successor advocate”: if the first person is unable to act as your advocate when the time comes.
You do not need the services of an attorney to fill out the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care form. The use of the form is optional. The decision to appoint someone is voluntary.
If you authorize your advocate to make decisions to withhold or withdraw treatment, thus allowing you to die, then your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care must specifically state that. Include a statement such as “I authorize (the name of the person you designate) to make a decision to withhold or withdraw treatment which could or would allow me to die. I acknowledge that such a decision could or would allow me to die.” Your statement should indicate your personal preferences regarding care, custody and medical treatment. This is also where you may want to specify life-sustaining treatment you want or don’t want, including artificial nutrition and hydration (intravenous food and water).
Your Durable Power of Attorney designation must voluntarily be in writing, signed by you, witnessed by two individuals who are not relative or interested parties to your will or estate, and dated. The witnesses sign only if you are of sound mind and under no duress, fraud or undue influence.
Give the original signed copy to your family member or friend (not a photocopy), and give a copy to your physician and family. When you go to a hospital, bring a signed copy of your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, along with signed acceptance of your designate.
The person who you are designating with Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care must sign an acceptance. It, along with your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, should be part of your medical record.