Medical Power of Attorney
What is a Medical Power of Attorney?
A Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) form is a written document where you name a person, called an agent, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions. As the instructions to the MPOA sets out, your agent has the authority to make …all health care decisions for you in accordance with your wishes, including your religious and moral beliefs, when you are no longer capable of making them yourself. The only exclusions are voluntary inpatient mental health services, convulsive treatment, psychosurgery, or abortion.
When Does an Agent’s Authority Begin?
The agent’s authority begins when your doctor certifies that you are no longer competent to make health care decisions and ends when your competency is restored. The agent’s power can last an hour or the rest of your life, depending on the circumstances.
The MPOA form is set out in state law. At the legislature’s direction, the form includes detailed information on the nature of the power you are granting your agent. Texas law protects health care providers from liability when they rely on the MPOA agent’s direction. Conversely, the law protects MPOA agents acting in good faith from liability.
In my practice, clients complete both the MPOA and Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (Directive). I strongly suggest my clients discuss both the MPOA and the Directive with their physician to understand better the range of decisions an agent could be called upon to make.
In the form, you can provide instructions to the agent and the agent is required to follow those instructions. I generally recommend my clients include language that instructs the MPOA agent to follow the completed Directive.
Your agent can be someone providing you healthcare or residential care, but once appointed, can no longer provide you care. The agent must be 18 unless special circumstances exist (i.e., naming a spouse under 18 as agent).
An additional authorization form created by the legislature is the Declaration for Mental Health Treatment. This form allows you to provide instructions on the use of psychoactive medication, convulsive therapy, and emergency mental health treatment. When appropriate, this form can provide additional guidance to your MPOA agent.