Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)
- What is a MPOA?
A medical power of attorney is a legal document, a type of advance directive, that allows you to name a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Of the forms submitted since 2010 to the WV e-Directive Registry, 18% are MPOA forms. This is the second most common advance directive submitted to the Registry.
Note: If you do not choose a MPOA representative through an advance directive and you lose the ability to speak for yourself, your health care provider will appoint a representative for your through a Surrogate Selection.
- What if I already have a Living Will? Do I need an MPOA?
Most West Virginians complete both a medical power of attorney and a living will. Since the medical power of attorney is a more flexible document and allows you to name someone to make decisions for you, it is advisable to create a medical power of attorney even if you have already signed a living will or decide not to do a living will.
- Can I still make my own health care decisions once I have created a MPOA?
Yes, you can still make your own wishes for medical care after completing an MPOA. Your medical power of attorney does not become effective until you are not able to clearly say your own wishes.
- If I decide to create a MPOA, how should I choose my representative?
Choose someone who knows your values and wishes, and whom you trust to make decisions for you in the MPOA. Do the same for a successor representative. Ask both to be sure they understand and agree to be your representative.
- What if I change my mind about who I want to be my representative or about the kind of treatment I want?
Review your medical power of attorney periodically to make sure it still reflects your wishes. The best way to change your medical power of attorney is to create a new one. The new document will automatically cancel the old one. Be sure to notify all people who have copies of your medical power of attorney that you completed a new one. Collect and destroy all copies of the old version. Send the new version to thee-Directive Registry so that your current one is available to treating health care providers.
- Do I need a lawyer to create a MPOA?
No. A medical power of attorney can be completed without the assistance of a lawyer. However, all advance directives must be witnessed by 2 witnesses and notarized.
- Will another state honor my MPOA?
Laws differ somewhat from state to state, but in general, a patient’s expressed wishes will be honored.
- What should I do with my MPOA after I sign it?
After your medical power of attorney is signed, witnessed, and notarized, keep the original document in a safe location where it can be easily found. A photo copy of your medical power of attorney is legally valid. You are encouraged to send a copy of your medical power of attorney to the West Virginia e-Directive Registry.
- What is the Special Directives or Limitations section of the MPOA?
The special directives or limitations section of advance directives, such as the MPOA, allows you to document any wishes not already covered in the form or any wishes you want to expand on from the form. Comments about tube feedings, breathing machines, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),* dialysis, mental health treatment,** funeral arrangements, autopsy, organ donation, life-prolonging medical interventions,*** etc. may be placed here. Failure to provide special directives or limitations does not indicate that you are refusing certain treatments.
*Requests for withholding of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/requesting to be do-not-resuscitate (DNR) status in advance directives can be honored by all health care providers except for emergency medical service (EMS) providers. If you want to be DNR status and want to ensure it is honored across all health situations, speak to your health care provider about completing a medical order (POST form or DNR card) which can be honored by EMS providers.
**For more specific documentation related to mental health, consider completing the Mental Health Advance Directive.
*** Life-prolonging interventions can include (non-exhaustive list):
- cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
- the use of machines to help with heart, lung, or kidney function,
- the use of feeding tubes or intravenous catheters to deliver food, fluids, blood, and medicines to the body, and
- blood transfusions and antibiotics
Download the Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)
- Someone in my life asked me to serve as their MPOA Representative. What does that mean for me?
If someone asked you to be their MPOA representative, that likely means they value the role you play in their life. Have a conversation with them about the type of treatments they would or would not want and any other wishes they have in the event they are unable to speak for themselves. It is a good idea to check in with them about these wishes periodically to make sure you know if they have changed their mind. As their MPOA representative, you will want to honor their wishes as best as possible.
More information about being someone's MPOA representative can be found in our guide, "What is a Medical Power of Attorney Representative or Health Care Surrogate?"