Christian Life Resources developed a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care – Christian Version document to enable Christians to provide informed, legal, and Christ-centered direction for their medical care in the event they can no longer express their wishes. This is a legal document that allows you to designate a person to serve as your health care agent, allows you to make some selections regarding the kind of treatment or care you want provided, and includes a Christian witness to your faith and to the sanctity of human life.
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*This date reflects the year the document was last revised. If you have a previous version of the document it is still valid; however, you may want to download and sign the newest version in the event any laws have changed specific to your situation or condition. Click here for a detailed chart noting each document’s update.
Click here for a list of frequently-asked questions regarding Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care.
NOTE: You can purchase an expanded individual or couple’s version from our online CLR Store. The expanded version contains the official document and supplement plus the following additional materials:
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Do I really need any kind of medical directive statement?
As long as you can make your own decisions you never need a medical directive statement of any kind. The reality, however, is that as health care improves and people live longer, the decisions about continued care can become more challenging. There is an increased chance that a medical decision will have to be made when you are not alert, awake, or competent to make the decision. That is when you will want a medical directive statement of some sort – we recommend completion of the medical directive statement known as the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOAHC).
What is a DPOAHC?
The DPOAHC is a legal document that allows you to designate a person (your agent) to make certain medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.
Which is better – a DPOAHC or a living will?
The DPOAHC is a far better option than a living will. A living will allows you to designate general wishes when you face certain medical challenges. It cannot deal with the details and the unexpected. The DPOAHC allows you to also express general desires for your medical care and adds the ability to designate an agent or official decision-maker who acts on your behalf to address the details and unexpected issues that may occur.
Does the DPOAHC allow me to designate someone to manage my financial affairs?
No. The person you designate in a DPOAHC can only make health care decisions. If you want to appoint someone to handle your financial or legal affairs, you should do so with a financial power of attorney document. If you wish, you CAN designate the same person as your financial and your health care agent.
Am I required to have a DPOAHC?
Executing a DPOAHC is completely optional. You are not required to have a DPOAHC to receive proper treatment. Be advised, however, that in the event of an unexpected medical crisis in which family members do not agree on a course of action, the matter may have to come before the medical institution’s ethics committee or may even have to be resolved in court. Also be advised that while some state statutes permit “succession lines” for decision-makers (i.e., the spouse automatically is entitled to make decisions, then the oldest child, etc.), not all states provide for these “succession lines” and they do not protect against litigation as well as the formal DPOAHC does.
My spouse and I are both in agreement with the same medical care decisions. Can we just fill out one document?
No. Each adult must fill out his or her own DPOAHC document.
I spend several months a year in one state and several months in another. Do I need a DPOAHC for each state?
The DPOAHC should be honored in any state, as it is evidence of your wishes no matter where you live. However, the legal requirements for these healthcare documents vary from state to state. If you want an added sense of security when you live in another state, you should complete new documents that meet the legal requirements of that state. It is VERY IMPORTANT that in the event you sign more than one document, they are both identical in the medical direction given and the health care agent appointed. If not, the validity of both documents can be called into question.
How often should I review my document?
It is advisable to reassess the document every three years to guarantee the agent information is up to date, and that your desires for treatment and the named parties who should represent your interests have not changed.
Do I need an attorney to complete the document?
No. An attorney is not necessary to legally complete your document.
How long does the DPOAHC last? Does it need to be renewed?
The DPOAHC need not be renewed or updated. Its validity stands unless another authorization pre-empts it. Unless the decision is made to change or complete a new DPOAHC, the wishes expressed in your most recent document will be those carried out. Unless specified, the DPOAHC remains in effect until revoked.
Is there any time in which my DPOAHC would not be recognized?
DPOAHC documents are supposed to always be recognized. Practically speaking, however, emergency services, rescue, or ambulance personnel do not have ready access to those documents and generally engage in the necessary practices to protect and preserve life.
What if I change my mind after I’ve created a DPOAHC?
You can amend or revoke a DPOAHC or a living will at any time while you are still capable of doing so. To amend the document, make the changes in writing and put your initials and the date next to each change; copy the amended document; and distribute it to the proper parties. To revoke your document, we suggest you destroy it – shredding is the preferred method.
What should I do with the completed DPOAHC?
Copies should be made and given to family members, your health care agent, your family doctor, and, if appropriate for you, your pastor. It is also important to remember that you should take a copy of your DPOAHC each time you are admitted to the hospital to ensure the hospital staff is aware of your wishes. You are further advised to communicate with your loved ones and doctors about the existence of your completed DPOAHC and about the information it contains. Because this document stipulates your specific medical interests and treatment choices, it allows for more comfortable decision-making on the part of your family, agent, and doctors.
What if I have additional questions?
Contact the Christian Life Resources office, and we will be happy to assist you!