Medical Power of Attorney DC

Navigating advanced healthcare directives in DC? Kevin C. Martin, Attorney at Law, PLLC, is here to guide you. Call us now for further guidance.


Introduction to Medical Power of Attorney DC

The term “advanced directive” may be less familiar to you than terms such as a “living will” or a “power of attorney.” An advanced directive is a type of legal document that indicates your wishes if you become incapacitated and can’t communicate your decisions and wishes. A healthcare advanced directive can be used to specify the medical treatment, palliative care, or whether you even want end-of-life care.

Although life is unpredictable, advanced directives can help prepare for the unexpected and help your family in difficult moments. But, to be able to make valid advanced directives, certain legal requirements have to be met. If you would like to learn more about these legal requirements or how to make an advanced healthcare directive in Washington, DC, keep on reading.

Attorneys at Kevin C. Martin, Attorney at Law, PLLC, can prepare and draft your estate planning documents, including advanced healthcare directives. With decades of combined legal experience and an understanding of DC’s unique laws on estate planning, we can ensure your wishes are followed and all the documents are in place.

What are Advanced Healthcare Directives?

An advance directive “speaks for you” when you can’t speak for yourself due to sickness or an injury. In other words, if you become too incapacitated to decide for yourself, this document provides your instructions, directives, and desires regarding future medical treatment.

Advance directives can be in the form of the following:

  • Living will

A living will sets forth your wishes regarding withdrawal or application of life-sustaining procedures when you are in imminent danger of death. These life-sustaining procedures can include dialysis, life-sustaining ventilators, tube feeding, and resuscitation.

  • A durable power of attorney for health care

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that authorizes another individual you trust to make decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney for health care, otherwise known as a medical power of attorney, lets you name an individual to be your health care agent and make all your health decisions if you are not able to do so.

  • Advanced instructions

Advanced instructions can be used to detail your health treatment preferences for mental illness or substance use disorder. Advance instructions, just like a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will, become effective only when the person who made it becomes incapacitated. However, their existence won’t jeopardize your right to make your own healthcare decisions if you are considered capable. According to DC law § 21–2204, everyone is considered capable of making a health care decision unless two licensed and qualified professionals determine mental incapacity.

Stating your wishes before it’s too late is crucial. That’s why advance directives are a vital part of an estate plan. Everyone should consider them, not only those whose health may be at risk.

Legal Requirements for in Washington DC

To create a valid advanced healthcare directive in DC, you have to be:

  • 18 or older
  • Mentally competent to understand the document’s authorizations

Moreover, the form has to be signed in the presence of two witnesses. However, witnesses also have to meet certain legal requirements under DC law (§ 7–622 and § 21–2205). For example, witnesses have to be at least 18, but they can’t be:

  • Related to the person making advanced directives
  • Entitled to a portion of their estate
  • The attending physician or an employee of the health facility in which the person who created the directive is a patient

Understanding Advanced Healthcare Directives and Medical Power of Attorney

Advanced Healthcare Directives (AHD) and Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) are crucial legal tools, yet they serve distinct purposes. An AHD, often called a living will, explicitly outlines your wishes regarding medical treatments and interventions in situations where you cannot communicate them yourself. This document may stipulate preferences on issues like resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and other life-prolonging measures.

In contrast, a Medical Power of Attorney appoints an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated. This designee, often a trusted family member or friend, works with healthcare providers to ensure that the medical care provided aligns with your preferences and interests, even if they are not explicitly documented as in an AHD.

Together, these instruments provide a comprehensive approach to managing your healthcare decisions, ensuring both your specific wishes and broader wellbeing are respected when you might not be able to voice them directly.

The Benefits of Having an Advanced Healthcare Directive

An Advanced Healthcare Directive (AHD) offers essential benefits, ensuring your healthcare preferences are honored without direct communication.

Primarily, it provides peace of mind, both to you and your loved ones, by clearly documenting your medical wishes in critical situations. Statistics reveal that nearly 70% of Americans lack any form of AHD, often leading to family disputes or uncertainty during medical crises.

By establishing an AHD, you guide healthcare providers and relieve your family from making difficult decisions during emotional times.

Additionally, an AHD can significantly reduce the likelihood of undergoing unwanted procedures or hospitalizations, aligning your care with your values and quality of life expectations.

This proactive approach can also facilitate discussions about end-of-life care, encouraging open conversations and ensuring that your decisions are made with dignity and respect.

Thus, an AHD is not just a legal document but a cornerstone of compassionate healthcare planning.

Creating Your Advanced Healthcare Directive

When creating a District of Columbia advanced healthcare directive, you have to do the following:

  • Choose who will be your medical decision-maker
  • Decide about your health care treatments
  • Download or create an appropriate form and sign it per the legal requirements

An advance healthcare directive can combine a medical power of attorney and living will into a single document. There are templates you can download when creating an advanced directive, but you can also have an attorney draw one up for you.

Having an experienced estate planning attorney draw this document for you is always a good idea. An advanced healthcare directive can have financial implications since certain resources must be allocated for specific end-of-life and healthcare decisions. Proper estate planning can help mitigate that financial burden and, at the same time, ensure healthcare directives are honored.

Integrating Directives into Your Healthcare Plan

Before you create an advance directive, talking with your healthcare provider and loved ones is a good idea. If they know about your situation and wishes, it would be easier to put them into effect. It is important to align your advanced directive with your overall healthcare plans, and your healthcare provider may be able to help you do that.

You can also give photocopies of the signed advance healthcare directive to your doctor, family members, close friends, or anyone else who might be involved in your healthcare.

Updating and Revising Directives

Revising and updating advanced healthcare directives is essential. You may change your mind about your healthcare choices or may need to change your medical decision-maker following new changes in life.

It is important to know that you can update or cancel your advanced directives at any time. Letting everyone involved in your care know that you have changed your mind is just as important.

If that occurs, you can destroy old forms, make new ones, and give them to your medical decision-maker, family members, and others involved in your care.

Call Us If You Need Help With an Advance Healthcare Directive

Advanced healthcare directives are vital aspects of estate planning in DC and should be considered by everyone, regardless of health status or age. They can outline your medical wishes to those you love if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own.

You don’t have to have an advanced healthcare directive. However, it can be a good idea to have one. Your health affects you most of all, and you have the right to be involved in any healthcare or medical decisions regarding your treatment.

Moreover, it can be stressful for your loved ones to make an end-of-life decision, especially if they don’t know your wishes. An advanced directive can provide your family comfort under difficult circumstances. Your family members will know what you want, which will prepare them for unexpected medical situations.

Attorneys at Kevin C. Martin, Attorney at Law, PLLC, can help you draft an advance healthcare directive, as well as make sure financial resources are allocated for your medical decisions if necessary. We can also ensure your advanced directive aligns with your healthcare plans.

Contact our law office today for a free consultation. Let’s start planning for your future.