Mother gave Medical DPOA to church elders - what are their responsibilities? -

Mother gave Medical DPOA to church elders - what are their responsibilities?


Recently when mom was hospitalized I was informed that I had no authority to make any medical decisions for her; including placement after her discharge. I had DPOA and thought that it included everything - apparently not! I have financial DPOA and the other document that she had gotten from the church and was signed (not by a notary or lawyer) but a document prepared by the church states that she would not want blood transfusions or heroic measures (life support, etc.) The social workers at the hospital interpreted that document as all encompassing and told me that the church elders are responsible for all of her medical decisions now. They however tell me that they feel their responsibilities are limited to the blood transfusion and/or life support issue. The social workers insisted that even placement after her discharge would be the decision of the church elders - and that all of her medical decisions would have to come from them. I would of course be included in conversations - but would have to respect their authority in this area. Could anyone direct me to additional information on the limits of their (the church elders) responsibilities? Thank you!

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Mom has pretty advanced dementia now - so I'm not going to try to ask her to change anything. She didn't 'realize' when she and three of the elders signed the document that it meant 'all of her medical decisions'. I saw the form and have studied it carefully and it says nothing all-encompassing about all medical decisions. There are two specific points on the form (one about blood transfusions and the other about life support-extraordinary efforts to sustain her life in the event of an episode where she cannot respond)..

I was very surprised when the Social Workers who also read the document decided that it was for ALL medical decisions up to an including placement upon discharge. We did meet and agree on an Adult Foster Home - which mom hates! But that's another topic.

I have asked the church elders if they would be able/willing to help find another facility for mom. They told me that they felt that was not their responsibility. I just wanted to get some opinions as to who's responsibility it is to find her another place. As the only child, I suppose it's mine - but felt that I needed to ask them first - just making sure I'm not stepping on toes...I sure don't want to get a call from some lawyer someday saying 'You had no authority to make that decision, since you clearly are not her Medical DPOA' as the hospital told me very clearly - they reviewed her Medical DPOA and my lawyer provided DPOA - and it's very clearly written that I'm responsible for all of her financial issues/interests. No mention in the legal document about medical decisions. I'm not sure if that was an oversight on his part but that was 6+ years ago, in another state so I can't go back and ask him.

And like I said, mom has dementia now and no lawyer or anyone else would believe that she has the ability to make any complex decisions - especially so since that too was clearly noted in her discharge paperwork. Unable to make complex decisions....

Thanks for your input.
Helpful Answer (0)

JoAnn29, a Medical POA does not have to involve a lawyer. Many different forms can be used. (AARP states this, so I assume it is national. I know it is true in my state.)

The basic information that any competent person can change their healthcare proxy at any time is correct. It just does not require a lawyer to do it.

Also, the medical POA does not have to carry out the wishes stated in the document. The MPOA can judge based on the circumstances what would be in the best interests of the principal. I think most of us would indeed follow the instructions and be grateful we have guidelines, but there is no legal obligation to do so.
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A Medical POA needs to be done by a lawyer not a form a Church makes up and has signed. This is a religion thing not legal and the Social Worker should know the difference. If u mean they as the Church, they r correct. Is Mom confident? Then take the form from the Church and go back to the lawyer who did ur POA with Mom. Explain to her that this will make her wishes legal and that u have to carry them out. Looks like the Church is on ur side so if u have a problem with her let the minister talk to her. Have the lawyer put in the medical POA that she wants no blood transfusions or heroic measures. Making a list like, no feeding tube, no recusitation... Then take a copy to the hospital and have it put in her record.
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Perhaps your mom didn't want to burden you with making end of life decisions or was worried you wouldn't be able to follow her wishes and the church elders (who are not emotionally involved) would. We chose one son to be our financial POA but knew he would have a hard time following our end of life decisions so we chose another son to be our medical POA. The good news is it sounds like the elders have no desire to fight you on decisions on placement after discharge.
Helpful Answer (3)

Church elders in plural?
No individual persons name?
I think you need a copy of the document your mother signed in order to determine the scope of authority.
Would the elders be willing to put in writing their limits? Wouid the hospital accept it?
Is she competent to sign another Medical DPOA or rescind this one?
Perhaps the church could resign their M DPOA in exchange for your agreeing to the two issues your mother wanted assured?
It sounds like a question for your moms elder attorney.
Is the hospital affiliated with the church?
Hopefully someone will have experience with this and have a better answer. All I have are questions.
Please let us know how this works out.
Helpful Answer (4)

You need to see the medical DPOA document. Have you got a copy?

Since the church officials have told you that their main concerns are respecting your mother's views on blood transfusion and life support; and the social workers have told you that nevertheless all decisions about health care and welfare will need to be authorised by them; it seems reasonable to assume that the elders will consult you about any remaining points. Is there anything in particular you foresee as a problem?
Helpful Answer (2)

Is mom competent to understand DPOA? Is this what she wants? Maybe she does not want to burden you with such decisions? If competent she can change DPOA any time she likes.
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