The ability to make important health-related decisions is often taken for granted. However, with advanced age, it may become necessary to designate someone to handle these matters for you. This may be accomplished through a power of attorney for health care, which can delegate broad or limited decision-making authority. Knowing the formalities required to execute a POA and when it may be revoked will provide you with the greatest control over your health in Alaska.
Overview of Health Care POAs
In Alaska, a durable power of attorney for health care can protect you in the event that you become unable to make health-related decisions. The POA is "durable" in the sense that it stays in effect during your incapacity, and gives you the power to delegate decision-making authority to an agent. The agent's authority can be as broad or as limited as you desire, including the ability to make all decisions that can be legally made by you.
The types of health care-related decisions that are typically covered by a POA include consenting to medical treatment, approving the administration of tests or other diagnostic measures, and switching medical providers. You may also insert provisions covering end-of-life decisions, such as withholding artificial life-sustaining nutrition and making anatomical gifts. However, certain decisions are not recognized by Alaska law and cannot be delegated to your agent. These include mercy killing, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
In order to execute a valid POA for health care in Alaska, certain formalities must be observed. First, the document must be in writing and signed by you either in the presence of a notary or two adult witnesses personally known to you and present when you sign the POA. Further, in order to avoid a conflict of interest, the witnesses must not be employed by the hospital, and only one of the witnesses may be related to you by blood or marriage or be a beneficiary under your will.
In Alaska, you may revoke the authority of any agent appointed under a health care POA in writing or by personally notifying your health care provider. You may revoke all or part of the POA in any manner showing an intent to revoke, including verbal revocations made to your doctor, which must be noted in the medical record. An exception applies in cases where you are found to not to be competent. This requires the opinion of two physicians or a finding made by an Alaskan court. If it is determined that you are not competent, you may not appoint a substitute agent or revoke the POA, in whole or in part.