Is A Health Care Power of Attorney Valid In Another State?
June 27, 2008 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious about what is the validity of my partner's Health Care Power of Attorney when he travels out of state. I can't seem to find much authoritative information when I google this. Can anyone clarify?

So we can't marry here in Texas as a same-sex couple, and we probably wouldn't marry even if we could. But we did do the Health Care Power of Attorney, the Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, the Living Will, ad infinitum. These were executed according to the laws of the State of Texas. What happens when he is out of state?

He is currently in Indiana visiting his elderly parents. Today he didn't call, and I worried about his blood sugar (Type 1 diabetic) and other health issues. Then he called in the early afternoon, and we're fine, but I'm still wondering. A couple years ago he had a diabetic reaction and went into a coma when visiting them, and I wasn't called until the next day. That was before his current HCPOA, and now I have both a right and a responsibility to direct his health care if he is unable to do so.

I understand that no one would call me unless they knew they were supposed to. But, at the point that I did learn of a medical condition that would trigger the HCPOA (if he were in Texas) would it also take effect in another state? Would the hospital follow my directions, or would they follow his parents or siblings?

I know you may or may not be a lawyer, and in any case, you are not my lawyer, etc, etc. I would still appreciate any information that could help me to understand what happens in a case like this. What do we have to do to make sure that I am his "emergency contact" and that I am informed and given the opportunity to make decisions, if needed?
posted by Robert Angelo to Law & Government (4 answers total)
 
So long as the documents were validly executed in Texas, they will be recognized in Indiana. The only possible problem you might encounter is that if the Texas forms significantly differ from the ones they are accustomed to seeing in Indiana, hospital staff might question their validity. You may wish to provide copies of the documents to the hospital near his parents (where presumably he would end up in an emergency) so that they have them on file. This might also prompt the hospital to raise any questions they have about their validity. Your partner can also carry an "In Case of Emergency" card in his wallet stating that he has executed these documents, that you are his attorney-in-fact under them, and giving your contact information. Oh, and I'm not your lawyer.
posted by HotToddy at 4:38 PM on June 27, 2008


I have often encountered HCPOA's executed in states other than the one where I was currently trying to figure out what to do with a neurologically ill patient. It's never even occurred to me to question their validity. I'd be interested to hear a lawyer's take on this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:44 PM on June 27, 2008


Thanks for the answers, so far. I've seen stories like this one, and it makes me wonder.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:49 PM on June 27, 2008


As a general rule of thumb, most health care providers will respect these documents regardless of where they are executed. If you designate your sister as your health care decision-maker in Indiana, and if your are hospitalized in New Mexico, the designation will probably work. But that works only for family relations. When it comes to unrelated people, and when same-sex relationships are involved, the issues become much more complex.

Various state-enacted laws similar to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, together with the current uncertainty about marriage-related issues for same-sex couples, leads most lawyers to advise clients not to assume that any such document, regarded as valid in one state, will be respected in another.

Powers of attorney - documents which allow one person to make decisions for another - are regularly rejected by banks and other custodians of financial accounts, for any number of reasons. Unlike other legal documents, they are not automatically binding in many states.

Consider a terminally ill woman, whose partner is given authority by a written health care directive to make her medical decisions if she is unable to do so herself. If the partner tells the hospital to discontinue extraordinary measures to resuscitate her, but her parents say otherwise, who is the hospital going to listen to?
posted by yclipse at 8:29 PM on June 28, 2008


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