What is a medical power of attorney?

A medical power of attorney is a device that allows an adult you trust to act as your representative to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You create a medical power of attorney before you become incapacitated and it only takes effect after you become incapacitated. Your representative does not have any authority until a medical professional determines you are medically incapacitated. Furthermore, the powers given to your representative are only those related to your health care; your representative has no control over your property or finances if you become incapacitated. (See also the question on how to appoint someone to make health care decisions on page 51.)  

A medical power of attorney is likely valuable for any adult to have. That way, if something unexpected happens to you, someone you trust can have the authority to make your health care decisions for you. If you don’t execute a medical power of attorney and a medical decision needs to be made for you at a time that you are incapable, your physician may appoint a healthcare surrogate to make decisions for you (see also healthcare surrogate question on page 56).  

For more information, see: W. Va. Code §§ 16-30-1 to -24 (2015); http://www.wvendoflife.org (last visited May 29, 2015).