Missouri Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care: What You Need to Know

Make a Missouri durable power of attorney for health care and declaration (living will).

Why do you need a living will and durable power of attorney for health care in Missouri?

If you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age, the right legal documents are your lifeline. When you don't write down your wishes about the kinds of medical treatment you want and name someone you trust to oversee your care, these important matters can be placed in the hands of estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges, who may know very little about what you would prefer.

What are health care forms called in Missouri?

There are two basic kinds of health care documents that everyone should make. First, you'll need a document naming a trusted person to direct your health care if you are unable to do so yourself. In Missouri, the official name for this form is a durable power of attorney for health care.

Second, you should make a document setting out the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations. This document is often known as a living will. In Missouri, this form is sometimes called a health care directive.

The two documents are sometimes combined into a single form.

Who makes health care decisions for me in Missouri?

In Missouri, the person you name to make decisions for you is called your agent. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend as their attorney-in-fact. Under Missouri law, your attorney-in-fact may not be:

  • your attending physician,
  • an employee of your attending physician, or
  • an owner, operator or employee of the health care facility where you live, unless
  • you and your health care representative are related as parents, children, siblings, grandparent or grandchildren, or
  • you and your health care representative are members of the same community of people who have vowed to lead a religious life and who conduct or assist in conducting religious services and actually and regularly engage in religious, charitable or educational activities or the performance of health care services.

What else do I need to know about choosing an attorney-in-fact in Missouri?

When choosing your attorney-in-fact, the most crucial criteria are trustworthiness and dependability. You might also want to choose someone you think will be good at asserting your health care wishes if others argue against them -- that is, someone who is persistent or calm under pressure.

While you need not name someone who lives in Missouri, the person you name should at least be willing and able to travel to your bedside if necessary.

Your attorney-in-fact will begin to make health care decisions for you when you lack the capacity to do so. For more information, see Nolo's article Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for Health Care: How They Work.

Do I need a lawyer to make health care documents in Missouri?

You usually don't need a lawyer to prepare documents directing your health care. In fact, state governments have designed these forms for people to complete on their own by filling in the blanks. You can find the health care forms you need for Missouri in Nolo's Quicken WillMaker Plus software. The software includes detailed instructions for completing your documents and meets all Missouri legal requirements.

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