If you’re unable to express your wishes or opinions regarding your healthcare choices due to a temporary or ongoing disability, then you’d need a healthcare agent to communicate with the medical providers on your behalf.
In the state of Nevada, you can designate a healthcare agent by signing a medical power of attorney form (POA).
In this article, we’ll discuss what is a medical power of attorney and who can be your healthcare agent.
We’ll also talk about the limitations of a medical POA, if a family member can override it, and other frequently asked questions.
What is a medical power of attorney?
In the event you become unable to make your own medical decisions, even if temporarily, you need to consider who you want to represent you and communicate your wishes and directions on your behalf.
In the state of Nevada, such a person is known as the medical power of attorney (medical POA).
You make it official by signing a legal medical POA document which designates your healthcare agent in the event you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. In Nevada, this document is also known as the Durable Power of Attorneys for Health Care Decisions.
You can think of it like a regular POA or a financial POA, but one that only applies to medical issues.
Who can be my medical POA in Nevada?
In general, you can name anyone above the age of 18 as your medical power of attorney with a few exceptions, as we’ll mention below.
You can designate a close friend, family member, a relative, or anyone that you feel comfortable handling your medical decisions.
Nevada allows you to designate someone as your alternative agent in the event that your primary POA is unable or unwilling to make decisions on your behalf.
You’re not required to name an alternative agent, but you’re allowed to do so. The alternative agent’s authority will only take effect if the primary POA is unable to make decisions.
But if the alternative agent does become your POA, then they’d have the same authorizations to make decisions as your primary agent. So, if you do pick an alternative agent, be sure to go through the same process as you would with your primary POA.
Your spouse as you POA
You can pick your spouse as your medical power of attorney.
But if your marriage is dissolved, then their designation as your healthcare agent is immediately terminated.
In such an event, your alternative agent would become your primary agent, if you’ve specified one. Otherwise, you would be left without someone as your medical POA.
Who cannot be my medical POA?
Section 1 of the Durable Power of Attorneys for Health Care Decisions form specifies a few exceptions for people who cannot be your agent,
You may not designate the following people as your medical POA, unless they’re also your spouse, legal guardian, or the person who is most closely related to you by blood.
- Your treating provider of healthcare (your doctor, for example)
- An employee of your treating provider of healthcare
- An operator of a healthcare facility (e.g. the owner of your nursing home)
- An employee of the operator of a healthcare facility
Gaining medical power of attorney in Nevada
The first thing you need to do is obtain a medical power of attorney form by contacting the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
The form contains detailed instructions and explanations about how to designate a healthcare agent, what they’re authorized to do, their limitations, and a lot more.
The form also gives you the option to specify any wishes regarding the limitations of your agent’s authority, as well as any life-sustaining treatments or procedures. But you can choose to leave them blank if you want.
Here’s what you’ll need in order to complete the medical POA form in Nevada.
1. A healthcare agent
You’ll need to decide who you’ll designate as your healthcare agent.
It is vital that you spend some time thinking about this. The person you choose of course has to have your best interest at heart. But ideally, they should also be familiar with your worldview when it comes to sensitive things like life-sustaining treatment.
Remember that this person will have almost unlimited access to your medical records, as well as extensive authority when it comes to making decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated.
Take some time to review the medical POA form to review all the rights of your healthcare agent.
2. An alternative agent (optional)
Once someone agrees to be your agent, it might be a good idea to pick an alternative agent.
As we explained above, an alternative agent would take over as your primary agent in the event the primary person was unwilling or unable to represent you.
3. Two witnesses or a notary public
Finally, you’d need two adults who are present when you’re filling out and signing the medical POA form.
Explain to them that signing as witness is a serious matter, and that they’re declaring their presence under the penalty of perjury if proven false.
The witnesses may not be either your primary or alternative agent, or a healthcare provider.
If you don’t have witnesses, you can get the form notarized by a notary public in Nevada, as we’ll discuss further below.
4. Your Nevada medical POA is declared
Once you declare your agent, your wishes (if any), an alternative agent, and you sign the document along with the two present witnesses, the process is complete.
You have now declared your Nevada healthcare agent through a medical power of attorney.
What are the limits of medical power of attorney?
There are some very specific limits on a medical power of attorney in Nevada.
By default, your POA is not allowed to consent to any of the following in Nevada, as designated in section 4 of the form (Special provisions and limitations).
- They cannot commit or place you in a mental health institution
- Your agent cannot consent to convulsive treatment
- They aren’t allowed to commit you to psychosurgery
- Your POA cannot consent to abortion or sterilization procedures
Section 4 (Special provisions and limitations) also allows you to specify other types of treatments or placements that you do not want your agent to have the authority to consent to.
There’s a blank space where you can list such treatments.
If you leave it blank, then your agent will have broad authority to make health care decisions on your behalf, other than the legal limitations we listed above.
Nevada medical power of attorney and life-sustaining treatment
Section 6 of the Nevada medical POA form lets you specify certain statements of desire about decisions to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatments.
For example, you can state your desire that your life be prolonged to the greatest extent possible, regardless of your condition, your chances of survival, or the cost of any procedures.
On the other hand, you can also state your intention that if your situation is deemed to be irreversible by your medical team, then life-sustaining treatments will not be used.
You can make these intentions, along with a few others, known in this section.
If you do not state any desires and leave this section blank, then your agent is required by law to act on your behalf according to your wishes and best interest.
This is one of the reasons why it is vital that you designate someone to be your medical POA that you trust, someone that understands your wishes, and is willing to abide by them if you’re unable to communicate.
Can a family member override a medical power of attorney?
Generally speaking, a family member cannot override a medical power of attorney.
But there might be some extreme circumstances where the law might allow your spouse to claim that the power of attorney is no longer valid.
One of those circumstances could be that both designated agent is mental incapacitatd. And remember, in Nevada you’d designate a secondary medical power of attorney in the event that your primary POA is unable to make decisions for you.
But in the extreme event that both your designated agents are incapable of making decisions for you (along with you being also incapacitated), then your spouse can make a legal claim that your POA is no longer valid.
If a judge approves your spouse’s claims, he or she can ask the judge to appoint them as your guardian.
Other extenuating circumstances could be if your spouse can prove that you were somehow coerced into signing the medical power of attorney, or that the proper procedures weren’t followed (like your witnesses weren’t actually present).
In these cases, a judge might also decide to invalidate your POA and appoint your family member as a guardian.
How long does a medical power of attorney last?
Section 5 of the Nevada medical power of attorney form addresses how long the POA will remain valid.
By default, the POA is valid indefinitely from the date you sign the document.
The only exception is if you specify a date when the power of attorney document expires. There is an option for you to set an expiry date right within section 5 of the form, if you choose to do so.
But there is one exception.
Let’s say you set an expiry date when the POA stops being valid. But it so happens that you’re unable to make your own medical decisions on that date.
In such cases, the power of attorney you’ve granted to your Agent will continue to be valid until the time you are once again capable of making your healthcare choices.
Does a power of attorney need to be notarized in Nevada?
As we previously explained, you’ll need to have two witnesses present when establishing your Nevada medical power of attorney.
If you don’t have two witnesses, an alternative solution could be to have your POA document notarized.
In section 12 of your Nevada medical power of attorney declaration form, there is an option for you to have the document validated by a notary public.
So, in short, you only need to have your POA notarized if you can’t find two qualified witnesses to be present when signing the power of attorney declaration.
Look for a Nevada notary public near you.
Does a Nevada medical power of attorney transfer to another state?
It depends on what state you’re moving to. There are some states that may accept a Nevada medical power of attorney, while others that won’t.
That’s because states have different terms for a medical power of attorney. For example, in New York they call it a health care proxy.
You may need to update vital information like your new address, your POA’s new address, any new limitations you want, etc.
But the good news is that most states have simple forms you can fill out to update your information.
But some states do not recognize the power of attorneys that were established in other states. They may vary in how they enforce the laws around medical POA.
For example, there might be differences in how your POA is limited in making decisions on your behalf. In such cases, you may have to repeat the entire process with new witness signatures.
The best thing to do is to contact the department of health in your new state, and let them know about your medical power of attorney from Nevada. They’ll let you know if you need to do anything to keep your POA valid in the new state.
If you do need to create a new medical power of attorney, be sure to review the rules in your new state about the POA’s authorizations, limitations, validity, and more.
Final Thoughts on Nevada Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney is one of those things that are easy to put on the back burner. Especially if you’re healthy and you don’t expect to be unable to communicate your medical wishes any time soon.
But none of us know what the future holds. And even if it is highly unlikely, unexpected circumstances may arise.
So it is better to be safe than sorry, and declare a medical power of attorney sooner rather than later.
By choosing a POA who understands your opinions and wishes, you’ll maintain some control over your healthcare decisions even if you’re unable to communicate them.
You’ll also provide guidance and clarity to your healthcare providers and prevent unnecessary disagreements and tension between your loved ones.
And the best part is that it is a relative simple process that requires minimal paperwork. Get the process started today by taking some time to think about who would be your ideal medical power of attorney in Nevada.