Have you ever wondered who will control your health care if you are not able to make decisions yourself?
Medical Power of Attorney is a legal document that names one person as a health care agent of another person. This agent has the ability to make health care decisions and the responsibility to make sure doctors and other medical personnel provide necessary and appropriate care according to the patient’s wishes concerning their medical treatment when the patient is no longer able to communicate their own wishes.
Advanced care planning and serious illness
Kansas statutes make two legal documents available to you to make sure your wishes are followed:
Advance Directives, Living Wills & the Durable Power of Attorney
A “living will”: A written statement of your wishes regarding your medical treatment if you are in a terminal condition. It must be witnessed by two individuals over eighteen, and it is only effective if two physicians have determined that you are terminally ill.
A durable power of attorney for health care decisions: A written document in which you authorize someone whom you name (your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. This person will, for example, make sure your bills get paid if you become ill, could authorize the sale of your home if you need the money, or could arrange for other individuals to get information from your doctor.
- Health care decisions include the power to consent, refuse consent, or withdraw consent to any type of medical care, treatment, service, or procedure.
- In the document, you can give specific instructions regarding your health care that will require the agent to make decisions in accordance with your direction.
A durable health care power of attorney can be effective any time or, if you want, at any time you are unable to make or communicate a decision. The agent you appoint can make any decision you direct, including decisions about health care beyond those covered by your living will.
- For example, the agent under a durable power of attorney can make decisions about care if you are in a persistent vegetative state but are not terminally ill.
- You can write your living will and your durable power of attorney to include specific limits about anything you want to have done or want to avoid having done.
- You can express your wishes about whatever you care most about
- Signing a power of attorney does not mean that you give up the authority to conduct your own business or make your own decisions. You retain the ultimate authority to direct your agent.
- You can end your health care power of attorney at any time by telling your agent and health care provider.
- You can end the power of attorney verbally, but it is best to do so in writing and to destroy the original document.
- A power of attorney can be revoked or amended at any time if the principal is competent. The revocation may be either written or oral.
Sometimes, a power of attorney may not be sufficient to solve a problem. For example, an Alzheimer’s patient who will not go to the hospital for needed care may require a court-appointed guardian.
If you are not 60 or older and think that you may meet income and asset limitations as a low-income person, you may call Kansas Legal Services’ centralized intake number business days 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m.
Kansas Legal Services 400 State Avenue, Suite 1015 Kansas City, KS 66101 800-723-6953 (913) 621-0200
Kansas Elder Law Hotline 1-888-35ELDER or 1-888-353-5337. In Wichita, call 265-9681
If you have any questions about locating legal forms please contact me for help
Community Services Librarian
Kansas City, Kansas Public Library
625 Minnesota Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66101
913-295-8250 ext 1103