Power of Attorney and Health Care – General – Rhode Island
A power of attorney is a “statutory short form power of attorney,” if it is in writing, has been duly acknowledged by the principal and contains the exact wording of the first clause (“notice” clause) of the statutory form.
Any of the subdivisions (A) to (J) contained in the statutory form may be stricken out and initialed by the principal, in which case those subdivisions are considered eliminated from the power of attorney.
A “statutory short form power of attorney” can contain those modifications or additions described in § 18-16-12 which eliminate powers listed in the statutory form, supplement statutory powers, or make additional provisions which are not inconsistent with the statutory form.
If more than one agent is designated by the principal in the statutory short form power of attorney, then the agents must act jointly unless the principal specifically provides that they are to act severally.
The statutory short form power of attorney can be made “durable” – SEE FORM.
A “durable power of attorney” is a witnessed document executed in accordance with the requirements of § 23-4.10-2.
The statutory form of durable power of attorney is set out in § 23-4.10-2.
The statutory form is not required.
Every statutory short form power of attorney shall contain, in bold face type or a reasonable equivalent thereof, the “Notice” set out in § 18-16-2.
The statutory form has an extensive “notice” set forth at the beginning of the form. That “notice” includes the following:
A principal must be at least eighteen years of age and a resident of the State of Rhode Island for the power of attorney to be valid and binding.
An agent must act consistently with the principal’s desires as stated in the power of attorney or otherwise made known to the agent.
The power of attorney gives the agent the power to consent to the principal’s doctor not giving treatment or stopping treatment necessary to keep the principal alive.
The principal has the right to make her/his own medical and health care decisions as long as the principal can give informed consent with respect to a particular decision.
No treatment may be given to a principal over her/his objection at the time.
Health care necessary to keep a principal alive may not be stopped or withheld if the principal objects at the time that care is indicated.
An agent has the authority to consent, to refuse to consent, or to withdraw consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or treat any physical or mental condition.
The power of attorney is subject to any statement of the principal’s desires and any limitations that the principal includes in the power of attorney.
The principal may state in the power of attorney any types of treatment that she/he does not desire.
A court can take away the power of a principal’s agent to make health care decisions if the agent:
Authorizes anything that is illegal,
Acts contrary to the principal’s known desires, or
Where the principal’s desires are not known, does anything that is clearly contrary to the principal’s best interests.
Unless a specific time period of authority is set out in the power of attorney, the agent’s authority exists until the principal revokes it.
An agent’s power and authority ceases upon the principal’s death.
An agent has the right to examine the principal’s medical records and to consent to their disclosure unless the principal limits this right in the power of attorney.
Execution of a durable power of attorney for health care revokes any prior durable power of attorney for health care.
The execution of this statutory short form power of attorney shall be duly acknowledged by the principal in the manner prescribed for the acknowledgment of a conveyance of real property (principal’s signature must be acknowledged).
The power of attorney must be witnessed by two qualified adult witnesses. None of the following may be used as a witness:
A person you designate as your agent or alternate agent,
A health care provider,
An employee of a health care provider,
The operator of a community care facility,
An employee of an operator of a community care facility.
Each witnesses must declare that the principal:
signed or acknowledged the durable power of attorney;
is personally known to the witness to be the principal;
signed or acknowledged the durable power of attorney in the witness’s presence;
appeared to be of sound mind and under no duress, fraud, or undue influence;
that the witness is not the person appointed as attorney in fact by the durable power of attorney; and
that the witness is not a health care provider, an employee of a health care provider, the operator of a community care facility, nor an employee of an operator of a community care facility.
At least on witness must also declare that:
the witness is not related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption; and
to the best of the witness’s knowledge, the witness is not entitled to any part of the estate of the principal upon the death of the principal under a will now existing or by operation of law.
“A durable power of attorney may be revoked at any time and in any manner by which the declarant is able to communicate an intent to revoke, without regard to mental or physical condition. A revocation is only effective as to the attending physician or any health care provider or emergency medical services personnel upon communication to that physician or health care provider or emergency medical services personnel by the declarant or by another who witnessed the revocation.”
In the absence of actual notice of the revocation of a durable power of attorney, the following, if they are acting in accordance with the requirements of Rhode Island law, are not subject to civil or criminal liability or charges of unprofessional conduct:
A physician who acts pursuant to the terms of a durable power of attorney or at the direction of the agent;
A person who acts under the direction or with the authorization of a physician.
The health-care provider owning or operating the facility in which the terms of durable power of attorney are implemented.
Emergency medical services personnel who act pursuant to an advanced directive protocol. Emergency medical services personnel who proceed to provide life sustaining treatment to a patient pursuant to a revocation communicated to them.
An agent acting in accordance with a valid durable power of attorney.
Presumption of Validity
A physician or health care provider or emergency medical services personnel may presume, in the absence of actual notice to the contrary, that a durable power of attorney complies with the requirements of Rhode Island law and is valid.
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