A medical power of attorney must be executed in the manner laid out in the West Virginia statutory code. The law requires that, to be effective, the medical power of attorney be:
•signed by the principal in the presence of two witnesses, and
•signed by the two witnesses and a notary public.
The law places limits on who may act as a witness for your medical power of attorney. A witness cannot be:
•a person 17 years old or younger
•a person who signed the medical power of attorney on behalf of and at the direction of the principal
•related by blood or marriage to the principal
•entitled to a share of the principal’s estate
•legally responsible for the principal’s medical expenses
•the attending physician, or
•the representative appointed in the medical power of attorney.
Finally, the law does make some people ineligible to act as your representative. The following are people who may not act as your representative:
•your treating health care provider,
•an employee of your treating health care provider unless that person is related to you,
•the operator of the health care center treating you, or
•an employee of the health care center that is treating you unless that person is related to you.
West Virginia law states specifically how a medical power of attorney must be written to take effect.
Medical powers of attorney are especially important for people in non-traditional relationships. Oftentimes, a person’s partner can be shut out of the decision making process unless he/she has the explicit power given to him/her by her partner in the form of a medical power of attorney.
Instructions on how to obtain sample living will forms are available in Appendix C.
For more information, see: W. Va. Code §§ 16-30-1 to -25 (2015); http://www.wvendoflife.org (last visited May 29, 2015).