Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 13, 2019

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In Pennsylvania, the concept of power of attorney for health care is called Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It might also be referred to as the Pennsylvania Advance Directive for Health Care. In either case, this form allows a person you designate to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Your representative (called your health care agent) is allowed to make any health care choices you designate on your behalf. Power of attorney allows you to individually specify which procedures or treatments you wish to be carried out, or simply to authorize your health care agent to make all your decisions for you, if the time comes.

Requirements for a Valid Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care form must be signed and dated by you and two witnesses. If you are unable to sign, a witness may sign for you if you are present, the witness has your permission, and two other witnesses are present. The witnesses must be 18 years of age or older. Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old.

When Your Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Goes Into Effect

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care will go into effect in Pennsylvania when your physician makes the determination that you are sufficiently incapacitated to no longer be able to make decisions for yourself. For terminal conditions or permanent unconsciousness, a second physician must confirm the opinion of your primary physician.

Making Your Wishes Known

Your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care authorizes your health care agent to make all decisions about your health care that are specified by you in your written form. If you have specific instructions for your agent, you should put them in writing to assure they are carried out to your exact specifications.

Treatments and Procedures That Can Be Designated

You may grant your agent authority to act on your behalf on any of the following (and more) issues:

  • Decisions on any procedures, treatments, and/or medications to be performed, including approval of tests and use of life-support equipment
  • Selection of which doctors will and will not treat you
  • Decisions on whether or not you will be resuscitated in the event you stop breathing or your heart stops
  • Decisions on the disposition of your organs and remains if you should die

Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Form

The state of Pennsylvania offers this form for Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Note that the form also contains sections to fill out to create a living will, which differs from the power of attorney election. In addition, if you have further questions about making decisions on creating durable power of attorney for health care and appointing a health care agent, you may want to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania elder law attorney or Pennsylvania estate planning attorney.