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Tennessee Durable Power of Attorney Laws

The "durable power of attorney" is a legal tool that grants a named individual the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions on behalf of the person initiating the agreement. The designated person, often a close relative, uses this legal instrument to communicate with doctors and hospital staff should you become incapacitated and thus unable to consent to treatment. Tennessee and other states regulate this process, also referred to a "durable power of attorney for health care."

While these are sometimes confused with living wills, durable powers of attorney are the legal authority to enumerate the patient's preferences listed on the living will. See Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Wills for more information.

Tennessee law requires a durable power of attorney to be signed before two witnesses and notarized in order to be valid. It also must specifically state its authorization to make health care decisions. See the following chart for additional details.

Code Section 34-6-201, et seq. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Act
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Any procedure, treatment to diagnose, assess, or treat a disease, illness, or injury, including surgery, drugs, transfusions, mechanical ventilation, dialysis, CPR, artificial nourishment, hydration or other nutrients, radiation. Death by starvation or dehydration allowed only if specifically directed with statutory phrase.
Legal Requirements for Durable Power of Attorney Signed before 2 witnesses and notary public and specifically authorizes health care decisions
Revocation of Durable Power of Attorney Revocable by (1) notifying the attorney-in-fact orally or in writing; (2) notifying health care giver orally or in writing; (3) executing subsequent durable power of attorney; (4) divorce if former spouse was designated; (5) principal's current wishes supersede durable power of attorney
Validity from State-to-State Effective if document complies with laws of Tennessee or laws of the state of principal's residence
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney Prompt and orderly transfer required
Immunity for Attending Physician No criminal, civil, or professional liability for physician acting in good faith

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Tennessee estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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