OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – While you are visiting with family this holiday season, there is one important topic you may want to discuss: your medical power of attorney.
Oklahoma changed its law this year, and it is something you want to take note of.
As of November 1, 2021, the medical power of attorney is no more. It has now become the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.
But the change does not apply to medical at all, which leaves both attorneys and healthcare providers unsure on how to legally move forward.
Prior to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, Oklahomans could attain both financial and healthcare specific powers of attorney.
“Now, the new law actually gets rid of healthcare power of attorneys altogether,” said Sarah Stewart, estate planning and probate attorney. “You can’t name a healthcare agent through a power of attorney. So that’s where the hiccup is for a lot of attorneys.”
Previously, a medical power of attorney was implemented to allow healthcare proxys to help Oklahomans with things like paying medical bills and talking to doctors.
Although that option is no longer available, Stewart has another recommendation: an advance directive.
“So advance directive was geared more toward taking away life-sustaining treatments, whether that would be artificial hydration/nutrition, maybe the breathing machines,” said Stewart. “It gives someone the authority to do that.”
Stewart said adults that are able to make decisions for themselves, even as early as 18, should have an advance directive.
“You could get in a car accident tomorrow, right? You never know what’s going to happen, and so it’s always the best option to plan ahead,” said Stewart.
If you already had a medical power of attorney previously in place, Stewart said there is no need to worry.
“This law went into effect November 1st,” said Stewart. “So it’s only any power of attorney made from November 1st, forward of this year. So if you had one from 2019, last year, whatever it may be, you’re good. It’s still effective.”
Stewart said attorney statewide have already reached out to the legislature to see if this bill can be changed to clarify the law for healthcare reasons. They are hoping to get this sorted next session.