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A power of attorney is a legal document used to appoint an individual to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

There are different powers of attorney that you can use for different legal matters in the event you are not able to give instructions, such as:

A health care power of attorney, otherwise known as a medical power of attorney form, is a legal document that is made to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Keep reading to discover what a health care power of attorney is and what happens if you don’t have one when you need it.

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint an attorney-in-fact, also known as an agent, to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Creating this legal document can give you peace of mind knowing someone has control over what happens in case you are unable to give any consent.

It also ensures that when a decision must be made quickly (such as in an emergency), there's someone who can act immediately on your behalf without having to go through costly court proceedings.

It’s also possible to create an Emergency Power Of Attorney (EPOA) in case of an accident. Assigning someone to handle your decision at a moment’s notice can help your loved ones avoid any unnecessary arguments.

Health care power of attorneys and living wills

After reading what a medical power of attorney does, you could find similarities to living wills.

However, there are certain key differences between them. It’s also important to understand the connection an advance directive has with the two legal documents.

Health Care Power of Attorney Provides an agent the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
Living Will Allows an individual to specify preferences for medical treatment, mainly for end-of-life treatment.
Advance Directive Includes the instructions from both a living will and an MPOA and places them in one document.

Health Care Power of Attorney Statutes Laws by State

If you’re interested in creating a health care power of attorney, it’s critical to be aware of the signing requirements you have to fulfill.

These requirements vary by state and if you don’t fulfill them your document could be considered illegitimate.

Find your state and its statutory law regarding health care power of attorney signing requirements.

State Law
Alabama § 22-8A-4(c)(4)
Alaska AS 13.52.010, AS 13.52.010(b)
Arizona § 36-3224,

§ 36-3221(A)(3)

Arkansas § 20-6-103,

§ 20-6-103(c)

California PROB § 4701,

§ 4701(e)

Colorado § 15-14-506
Connecticut Sec. 19a-575a, Sec. 19a-575a
Delaware § 2505,

§ 2503(b)(1)(d)

Florida § 765.202(1)
Georgia § 31-32-4,

§ 31-32-5

Hawaii § 327E-16,

§ 327E-3(1)

Idaho § 39-4510
Illinois 755 ILCS 45/4-5.1, 755 ILCS 35/3(b)
Indiana 755 ILCS 45/Art. IV,

§ 16-36-1-7(b)(3)

Iowa § 144B.5,

§ 144B.3(b)

Kansas § 58-632
Kentucky § 311.629,

§ 311.625(2)

Louisiana RS 28:223,

§ 224 (A)

Maine § 5-805,

§ 5-803(2)

Maryland § 5–603
Massachusetts § 201D-2
Michigan § 700.5501(b),

§ 700.5506(4)

Minnesota § 145C.16,

§ 145C.03(5)

Mississippi § 41-41-209,

§ 41-41-205(2)

Missouri § 404.822,

§ 404.705(3)

Montana § 53-21-1304,

§ 50-9-103

Nebraska § 30-3404,

§ 30-3404(5)

Nevada NRS 162A.790,

NRS 162A.860

New Hampshire Section 137-J:20,

§ 137-J:14

New Jersey § 26:2H-56, § 26:2H-57
New Mexico § 24-7A-4
New York PBH § 2981,

PBH § 2981(2)

North Carolina § 90-321,

§ 32A-16A(3)

North Dakota § 23-06.5-17,

§ 23-06.5-05(d)

Ohio § 1337.12(1)(b), Section 1337.17
Oklahoma § 63-3101.4, 63 O.S. § 3101.4(A)
Oregon ORS 127.527,

§ 127.515(2)

Pennsylvania § 5471,

§ 5452(b)(2)

Rhode Island § 23-4.10-2,

§ 23-4.10-2(9)

South Carolina § 62-5-504,

§ 62-5-517

South Dakota § 59-7-2.1,

§ 34-12D-2

Tennessee § 68-11-1803(b),

§ 34-6-203(a)(3)

Texas § 166.161,

§ 166.154

Utah § 75-2a-117,

§ 75-2a-107(c)

Vermont 18 V.S.A. § 9703,

§ 9703(b)

Virginia § 54.1-2983

§ 54.1-2984

Washington § 11.125.100,

§ 70.122.030

West Virginia § 16-30-4(a),

§ 16-30-4

Wisconsin § 155.10(1)(c),

§ 155.30

Wyoming § 35-22-403,

§ 35-22-403(b)

What Happens When There Is No Health Care Power of Attorney<

If you need a medical power of attorney but never created one, you could run into problems.

These problems include:

  • Not having your medical preferences respected
  • Loved ones arguing over what treatment you should receive

It’s always the wise decision to create a POA for someone incapacitated, as their loved ones and medical staff will know exactly what the patient’s medical preferences are.

Normally it will be left up to your spouse to make a decision, however, if you do not have a spouse it will go on to your adult children, and so on.

That’s why you should have a chat with your family and loved ones before you make your power of attorney, and everyone will know what to do if the moment arrives.

You can take the decision out of their hands and make your preferences clear and legal with a medical power of attorney form if you become incapacitated.

Helpful Resources: State Health Care Power of Attorney Statutes | Combudsman.org
Giving Someone a POA for your Health Care | ABA

A power of attorney is a legal document used to appoint an individual to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

There are different powers of attorney that you can use for different legal matters in the event you are not able to give instructions, such as:

A health care power of attorney, otherwise known as a medical power of attorney form, is a legal document that is made to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Keep reading to discover what a health care power of attorney is and what happens if you don’t have one when you need it.

What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint an attorney-in-fact, also known as an agent, to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Creating this legal document can give you peace of mind knowing someone has control over what happens in case you are unable to give any consent.

It also ensures that when a decision must be made quickly (such as in an emergency), there's someone who can act immediately on your behalf without having to go through costly court proceedings.

It’s also possible to create an Emergency Power Of Attorney (EPOA) in case of an accident. Assigning someone to handle your decision at a moment’s notice can help your loved ones avoid any unnecessary arguments.

Health care power of attorneys and living wills

After reading what a medical power of attorney does, you could find similarities to living wills.

However, there are certain key differences between them. It’s also important to understand the connection an advance directive has with the two legal documents.

Health Care Power of Attorney Provides an agent the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
Living Will Allows an individual to specify preferences for medical treatment, mainly for end-of-life treatment.
Advance Directive Includes the instructions from both a living will and an MPOA and places them in one document.

Health Care Power of Attorney Statutes Laws by State

If you’re interested in creating a health care power of attorney, it’s critical to be aware of the signing requirements you have to fulfill.

These requirements vary by state and if you don’t fulfill them your document could be considered illegitimate.

Find your state and its statutory law regarding health care power of attorney signing requirements.

State Law
Alabama § 22-8A-4(c)(4)
Alaska AS 13.52.010, AS 13.52.010(b)
Arizona § 36-3224,

§ 36-3221(A)(3)

Arkansas § 20-6-103,

§ 20-6-103(c)

California PROB § 4701,

§ 4701(e)

Colorado § 15-14-506
Connecticut Sec. 19a-575a, Sec. 19a-575a
Delaware § 2505,

§ 2503(b)(1)(d)

Florida § 765.202(1)
Georgia § 31-32-4,

§ 31-32-5

Hawaii § 327E-16,

§ 327E-3(1)

Idaho § 39-4510
Illinois 755 ILCS 45/4-5.1, 755 ILCS 35/3(b)
Indiana 755 ILCS 45/Art. IV,

§ 16-36-1-7(b)(3)

Iowa § 144B.5,

§ 144B.3(b)

Kansas § 58-632
Kentucky § 311.629,

§ 311.625(2)

Louisiana RS 28:223,

§ 224 (A)

Maine § 5-805,

§ 5-803(2)

Maryland § 5–603
Massachusetts § 201D-2
Michigan § 700.5501(b),

§ 700.5506(4)

Minnesota § 145C.16,

§ 145C.03(5)

Mississippi § 41-41-209,

§ 41-41-205(2)

Missouri § 404.822,

§ 404.705(3)

Montana § 53-21-1304,

§ 50-9-103

Nebraska § 30-3404,

§ 30-3404(5)

Nevada NRS 162A.790,

NRS 162A.860

New Hampshire Section 137-J:20,

§ 137-J:14

New Jersey § 26:2H-56, § 26:2H-57
New Mexico § 24-7A-4
New York PBH § 2981,

PBH § 2981(2)

North Carolina § 90-321,

§ 32A-16A(3)

North Dakota § 23-06.5-17,

§ 23-06.5-05(d)

Ohio § 1337.12(1)(b), Section 1337.17
Oklahoma § 63-3101.4, 63 O.S. § 3101.4(A)
Oregon ORS 127.527,

§ 127.515(2)

Pennsylvania § 5471,

§ 5452(b)(2)

Rhode Island § 23-4.10-2,

§ 23-4.10-2(9)

South Carolina § 62-5-504,

§ 62-5-517

South Dakota § 59-7-2.1,

§ 34-12D-2

Tennessee § 68-11-1803(b),

§ 34-6-203(a)(3)

Texas § 166.161,

§ 166.154

Utah § 75-2a-117,

§ 75-2a-107(c)

Vermont 18 V.S.A. § 9703,

§ 9703(b)

Virginia § 54.1-2983

§ 54.1-2984

Washington § 11.125.100,

§ 70.122.030

West Virginia § 16-30-4(a),

§ 16-30-4

Wisconsin § 155.10(1)(c),

§ 155.30

Wyoming § 35-22-403,

§ 35-22-403(b)

What Happens When There Is No Health Care Power of Attorney<

If you need a medical power of attorney but never created one, you could run into problems.

These problems include:

  • Not having your medical preferences respected
  • Loved ones arguing over what treatment you should receive

It’s always the wise decision to create a POA for someone incapacitated, as their loved ones and medical staff will know exactly what the patient’s medical preferences are.

Normally it will be left up to your spouse to make a decision, however, if you do not have a spouse it will go on to your adult children, and so on.

That’s why you should have a chat with your family and loved ones before you make your power of attorney, and everyone will know what to do if the moment arrives.

You can take the decision out of their hands and make your preferences clear and legal with a medical power of attorney form if you become incapacitated.

Helpful Resources: State Health Care Power of Attorney Statutes | Combudsman.org
Giving Someone a POA for your Health Care | ABA