Missouri Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A Missouri durable power of attorney for health care is created by a principal to give an agent permission to make decisions regarding their health care. The form becomes effective if the principal becomes unable to communicate (known as incapacitation). However, one (1) or two (2) physicians must confirm the principal’s mental status first. The principal can only complete and sign the document while they are conscious and of sound mind. In other words, they cannot choose their preferences while incapacitated.
If the principal has not created a durable power of attorney for health care, the judge must appoint a conservator. The principal’s family must set up a court date and pay for any associated fees. Since this process adds stress to an already difficult time, the principal should ensure that they create this document, especially if they are elderly or diagnosed with a terminal illness.
The principal can select up to two (2) alternate agents. An alternate agent stays on stand-by in the case that the original agent cannot fulfill the responsibility. The originally-assigned agent may decline the role if they move out of state, become too busy, or divorce the principal. Similarly, the principal can revoke the agreement at any time and complete a new durable power of attorney for health care if they want to choose a new agent.
This document enables the principal to control an agent’s power when making medical decisions. For example, they can grant the agent permission to choose their living facility, physician, or type of treatment. They can also allow or deny the agent to make decisions regarding:
- Artificial nutrition and hydration;
- Hiring and firing medical personnel;
- Obtaining and reviewing copies of principal’s medical records;
- After-death wishes (i.e., burial, autopsy, and examination); and/or
- Anatomical gifting of organ or tissue to transplantation, therapy, research, and/or education.
Laws: §§ 404.800 – 404.872 + §§ 459.010 – 459.055
Signing requirements (§ 404.825): No signing requirements.