Six answers to help you complete your free Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Form
by Brigid Fernandez
National Healthcare Decisions Day is April 16, and The Missouri Bar offers Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive forms free online. Included with The Missouri Bar form are frequently asked questions and answers.
Here are the answers to a few more frequently asked questions to help you complete your advance care directive:
- Who can serve as a witness on a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care? Any competent person over 18 years of age. The witness should not be related to the Principal (the person making the Power of Attorney) or be named in the document.
- Should the witnesses be present when the document is notarized? Yes, the witnesses must be present to observe the Principal signing the document, in the presence of the notary.
- Is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care recognized in other states? Generally, yes. The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is valid in Missouri and most states recognize the health care documents from other states, particularly when the person is traveling. It is recommended that if you change your residence, you consult an attorney in your new state of residence to make sure the documents are valid.
- Is it okay to have a notary from another state? Notaries are state specific so it is recommended to use a notary in the state of residence.
- What if I change my mind and want a different agent? Your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care document may be revoked at any time. To avoid confusion, complete a new Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care naming your new Agent and destroy the document you have revoked.
- I am not sure what is most important in The Missouri Bar Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive forms. The complete booklet is 16 pages but includes directions and a frequently asked questions section. The actual Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive form is only four pages and can be completed online, downloaded and printed to be signed in the presence of the witnesses and notary.
There are three parts to this document.
Part I is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care form. Part I allows you to name an Agent to make your health care decisions when you cannot do so. You are encouraged to name alternate or successor agents in case your primary agent is not available.
Part II is the Health Care Directive and allows you to state the care and treatment you would be willing have.
Part III describes the process the Agent would use to decide for you and states the document can be revoked, can be copied and relied on by other persons.
You are encouraged to read the document through once to familiarize yourself with what is asked before completing the form. Work through the form carefully, answering each question as you go through the form.
Contact your attorney or The Missouri Bar if you have additional questions about this form provided as a free service to the public.
Brigid Fernandez is an attorney at Fernandez Elder Law LLC in St. Louis where she assists clients with estate planning, elder law and probate law. She is an active member of The Missouri’s Bar Elder Law Committee and works to raise awareness of National Healthcare Decisions Day and the importance of having an advanced directive.