A power of attorney is a document where the signer gives another person the authority to act and make transactions on the signer’s behalf. In Oklahoma, there are two types of power of attorney:
1) powers of attorney, and
2) health care powers of attorney.
Briefly, here is the background: In 2021, the state legislature passed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA). The UPOAA prescribed a “power of attorney” form. However, the UPOAA contained two provisions, which caused an unforeseen problem:
1) The UPOAA said that its power of attorney form could not give the power to make health care decisions.
2) The UPOAA repealed the previous power of attorney law, which had allowed medical powers of attorney.
Shortly after the legislature passed the UPOAA, they realized that they had, unwittingly, eliminated medical powers of attorney entirely from Oklahoma law. To rectify this problem, the legislature, passed the “Oklahoma Health Care Agent Act,” in April 2022. This act created a power of attorney that specifically allowed the agent to make health care decisions. To read more about the passage of the Oklahoma Health Care Agent Act, click here. To read about powers of attorney (that are not related to medical decisions) click here.
What a health care power of attorney can do
Under the Oklahoma Health Care Agent Act, you may authorize your agent to:
1. Consent or refuse consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition;
2. Select or discharge health care providers and facilities; and
3. Sign a do-not-resuscitate consent.
You may also limit or describe your instructions in whatever way you want. The health care power of attorney form is flexible and allows you to express your wishes the way you choose.
However, you cannot use a health care power of attorney to allow your agent to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, food, or water. To withdraw life-sustaining treatment, food, or water, you will have to execute an advance directive. To find out more about advance directives, click here and here.
What’s the Difference between an Advance Directive and a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order?
A do-not-resuscitate order says that if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing, medical personnel (including EMS personnel) may not resuscitate you. An advance says that if you have a certain medical condition, you do want, or do not want, life-sustaining treatment, food, or water. In an advance directive, you may also make certain other individualized instructions, as you prefer. In my next post, I will explain more about the difference between an advance directive and a do-not-resuscitate order.
When does a health care power of attorney become effective?
Your agent’s authority begins when your attending physician determines that you are unable to make health care decisions on your own. On the form, there is a box you can check; if you check this box, the power of attorney becomes effective immediately.
Because of this, the power of attorney for health care is often called a “durable power of attorney for health care.” It’s called “durable” because the power continues to be effective after your incapacity.
Medical Power of Attorney Form
In the Oklahoma Health Care Agent Act, the state legislature created a form you can use to create a health care power of attorney. That form is available online here. The act says that this form “may, but need not” be used to execute a health care power of attorney. The Act also says that any document made in “substantial compliance” with the Act, will be effective as a power of attorney for health care. Further, the Act says that the provisions of the act govern the effect of “this form or any other writing used to create a power of attorney for health care.”
Want to Know More about Health Care Powers of Attorney? Contact the Persaud Law Office
The decision to allow someone else to make health care choices for you if you become incapacitated should not be taken lightly. Such a decision may be a necessary step, particularly as you get older.
The Persaud Law Office has helped many people with end-of-life and estate planning decisions. If you would like us to help you with a medical power of attorney, contact us today.
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