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Powers of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
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Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a written document by which one person gives to another person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on behalf of the first person in one or more matters.

Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
In May, 1991, a new Iowa law became effective that allows individuals to confer upon an attorney in fact the authority to make medical and health care decisions on behalf of the person granting the powers. A health care power of attorney essentially takes the place of a guardianship and allows the attorney in fact to make daily health care decisions without court supervision. A recent federal law now requires medical facilities to inform all patients, prior to admission, of the right to sign a living will or a health care power of attorney.

By executing a health care power of attorney, you are authorizing the attorney in fact to make health care decisions on your behalf. Health care decisions mean the consent, refusal to consent or withdrawal of consent to health care. Health care means any care, treatment, service or procedure, the purpose of which is to maintain, diagnose or treat an individual’s physical or mental condition.

It is a good idea to nominate an alternate attorney in fact, in case your first choice is unable or no longer willing to serve as your attorney in fact. However, it is not generally recommended that you appoint co-attorneys in fact. This will avoid potential deadlocks or disputes over health care decisions.

You may revoke a power of attorney at any time. To make an effective revocation, you must communicate your intent to revoke. This communication may be oral or written. The communication should be made to the attorney in fact. However, if a health care provider currently is providing health care services, then you may effectively revoke your power of attorney by communicating your intent to the care provider.

The health care power of attorney allows you to grant to the attorney in fact the authority to make decisions regarding the use of life sustaining procedures. Because of this, it has been said that the execution of a living will memorializes your intent and desire regarding your use of life-sustaining procedures, and not what your attorney in fact thinks you desire. The presence of a living will relieves the attorney in fact from making that difficult decision, if the situation arises.


You are encouraged to visit with an attorney prior to completing these forms:

To find a legal professional to meet your needs, please visit

The Iowa State Bar Association • 625 East Court Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309
Ph. (515) 243-3179 • Fax (515) 243-2511