Washington Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
The Washington Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (referred to in state law as a “Directive”) is a form which addresses the uncomfortable but not unique situation of an individual falling into a state of incapacity. Specifically, the form makes it possible for an individual (the Declarer) to name a party close to them, such as their parent/s or another loved one, who has agreed to do whatever they can in their power to ensure their health wishes are carried out in line with those noted in the form. This party (referred to as the Agent) will only be required to perform this legal duty if the Principal one day becomes incapacitated.
On April 30, 2019 a Bill passed called “Concerning Authorization of Health Care Decisions by an Individual or Designated Person” (Washington House Bill 1175 / HB1175). This bill will be effective from July 28, 2019 and will essentially amend some prior laws related to Washington Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care / Directive arrangements.
It is in the Principal’s best interests to familiarize themselves with these amendments, as they may have implications for the execution and subsequent use of their Directive.
State Laws & Signing Requirements
State Laws – Natural Death Act
Signing Requirements (RCW 70.122.030) – A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care / Directive arrangements are bound by the provision in the Natural Death Act. In terms of signing requirements, this law states that “the Directive shall be signed by the Declarer in the presence of two witnesses.” The witnesses must meet particular criteria, such as the fact that they are not:
- Related to the Declarer by blood or marriage,
- Entitled to any portion of the Declarer’s estate if they die, or
- The attending physician, an employee of the attending physician or a health facility in which the Declarer is a patient.
The Declarer should keep in mind that a copy or the original Directive must be, if they become incapacitated, made part of their medical records by the attending physician. Moreover, a copy will be forwarded to the health facility in cases where the withholding or withdrawal of life-support treatment is contemplated.