Understanding Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare: A Guide by Wood Law Group

Explore the essentials of durable power of attorney for healthcare with Wood Law Group. Learn its purpose, legal requirements, and how we can assist in drafting this crucial document.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney 

If you want to appoint someone to represent you in your everyday financial or health care matters, you can use a legal document called a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). This document allows someone you trust (called a health care proxy, agent, or attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf and decide for you if you become incapacitated. 

While this power of attorney gives health care providers instructions regarding desired treatments, it also limits their liability if they act with the terms of the document. 

However, there are a few limitations in Nevada on who can serve as your agent or attorney-in-fact in certain cases. Moreover, to be valid, a power of attorney must meet specific requirements. 

Creating a power of attorney in Nevada can be complicated because there is a lot to consider. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can make the process easier. 

Wood Law Group is known for helping clients create different estate planning documents, including durable powers of attorney. Our attorneys can ensure your document meets all the necessary legal requirements and guide you every step of the way. 

Understanding Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

In Nevada, there are several different types of powers of attorney. However, most estate plans include the following:

  • Financial POA – which allows you to appoint someone to handle your financial affairs
  • Health care POA – which allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf

These documents are called “durable” because they remain effective until the principal dies or revokes them. A health care power of attorney is one of the common types of advance directives in Nevada. They let you plan for the unexpected, which is always a good idea.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare?

The person making the power of attorney is referred to as the “principal.” The durable POA for health care allows the principal to give instructions about the health care and medical treatment they want if they cannot choose for themselves. It will serve as a guide for health care professionals when making medical decisions. 

As such, this document can include provisions for a wide range of medical actions. But, it can also give more specific instructions and include:

  • What tests can be run 
  • Wanted and unwanted types of medical care and medications (for example, whether they want to receive antibiotics)
  • If the principal would like to have certain medical treatments, such as surgery 
  • Whether the principal wants artificial nutrition and hydration through feeding tubes

A durable power of attorney for healthcare focuses only on health-related decisions. On the other hand, a financial power of attorney allows an agent to handle and oversee the principal’s financial matters. Typically, the agent can step in and pay the principal’s bills or handle other financial matters. 

A health care POA and a financial POA should be separate documents, but the same person can serve as an agent for both documents.

Legal Requirements

For a POA to be valid in Nevada, the principal has to be of a sound mind. However, mental capacity requirements are open to interpretation. 

Moreover, not every adult can serve as a health care agent. According to Nevada state law, NRS 162A.840, a principal can’t name as an agent a person who is:

  • Their health care provider
  • An employee of their health care provider
  • A health care facility’s employee
  • A health care facility’s operator

These exceptions don’t apply to the principal’s spouse, next of kin, or legal guardian. In other words, the principal’s spouse can be their POA agent even if they are a health care provider employee, for example. 

Furthermore, the principal has to sign the POA for health care. The signature has to be either:

  • Signed by the principal in the presence of a notary public
  • Witnessed by two adult witnesses

Although notarization is not required, it’s recommended. On the other hand, witnesses have to meet specific requirements. The same exceptions that are applied to agents are also applied to witnesses. Moreover, a health care agent can’t be a witness as well. Also, at least one of the witnesses of the principal’s signature can’t be related to the principal or entitled to any part of the principal’s estate.

The Importance of Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

Making Informed Decisions

Durable POA for health care can be crucial if an individual is in terrible pain and can’t speak, is unconscious as the result of an accident, or has slipped into a coma. 

If a principal is in a terminal condition and their recovery isn’t probable or feasible, a living will can be effective. A living will is also a type of advance directive that outlines end-of-life medical preferences.  

Protecting Your Healthcare Wishes

Some people might take comfort in knowing that if they get badly hurt, they will be treated according to their wishes. A durable power of attorney for healthcare ensures that your medical treatment preferences are respected even if you can’t communicate them. Not only will that provide you with the desired treatment, but it can also relieve your family’s burden of having to guess your wishes.

How to Create a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

Nevada offers a POA for health care form drafted according to the state legislature, with blanks that you can fill out. 

Step-by-Step Guide

After filling out the form, you can do the following:

  • Sign the POA for health care in the presence of two witnesses or a notary public

  • Keep the original POA in a safe place

  • Give a copy to your health care agent

  • Consider giving a copy to your health care provider

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Although some people forget, the POA for health care is a legal document that should be reviewed regularly. For instance, you may change your mind about certain procedures. Moreover, you may wish to change your health care agent. 

It can also be useful to discuss the role with the potential agent before executing the POA. You should make sure that person will act in your best interest. Also, you have to make sure not to appoint as an agent someone who legally can’t be designated to that role.

There may be other mistakes that can be easily avoided if you consult with an experienced estate planning law firm. 

The Wood Law Group can address all your concerns. We will make sure that your religious or philosophical beliefs are considered while creating a legal and valid POA. 

Have More Questions? Contact us Today! 

A durable POA for health care decisions can provide a sense of security. You won’t have to worry about your health if, one day, you are not able to make medical care decisions on your own.  

POA for health care is part of a comprehensive estate plan, which can ensure you are treated well if something terrible happens. 

When working with Wood Law Group, we will serve you with an estate planning package that works to your advantage. Our law firm is well-known for helping clients create comprehensive and effective estate plans, last wills, and revocable trusts in Nevada.

Attorneys at Wood Law Group are ready to help you understand more about how a POA and other estate planning tools can help you prepare for your future. Call us today to get started with a free consultation!