The durable power of attorney gives a named individual the authority to make important health care and end-of-life decisions on behalf of the principal (the person initiating the power of attorney). The principal must be of sound mind when the power of attorney is signed, although it is invoked when the principal no longer has capacity to make these decisions.
For example, a middle-aged woman in perfect health (or at least with full capacity) may sign a durable power of attorney form declining artificial life-support and request that her body be used for medical research. Much later in life, she suffers a serious accident and is unable to convey these wishes. With the power of attorney, the named individual will make sure her wishes are granted.
Missouri law requires that a durable power of attorney be signed in the presence of two or more witnesses, but allows the principal to revoke it at any time. Physicians who are unwilling to follow the durable power of attorney (perhaps due to moral differences) may arrange for a transfer.
The following table provides more details about Missouri's durable power of attorney laws. See The Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Your Health Care for more information.
|Code Section||404.800, et seq. Durable Power of Attorney-for Health Care|
|Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts||May make health care decisions, but no agent may authorize withdrawal of artificially supplied nutrition and hydration which the patient may ingest through natural means|
|Legal Requirements for Durable Power of Attorney||(1) Signed; (2) dated; (3) includes provision that durable power shall not terminate if principal becomes disabled or incapacitated; (4) powers generally commence upon certification by 2 licensed physicians that patient is incapacitated|
|Revocation of Durable Power of Attorney||Revocable at any time in any manner by which patient is able to communicate the intent to revoke. Effective upon communication to agent or to physician|
|Validity from State-to-State||-|
|If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney||Physician may not impede the attorney-in-fact from transferring patient to another physician or facility|
|Immunity for Attending Physician||Any third party acting in good faith may rely on the instructions of the attorney-in-fact without liability to the patient or the patient's successors-in-interest|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri power of attorney lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) that may affect you.
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