By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Guardianship & Elder Care Attorney
A client was just appointed as guardian for her ward (ward is the incapacitated person). The ward never executed a Health Care Proxy or Advanced Healthcare Directive. The assisted living facility is asking the guardian to sign a POLST (I’ll explain POLST in the next paragraph). The question is whether she has the legal authority.
A POLST is primarily a physician or nurse practitioner order, which must first and foremost, be signed/issued by the medical practitioner. The State-approved POLST form clearly anticipates (in Section F) that a guardian be involved in the process, where the patient is incapacitated. A physician or nurse practitioner can complete the POLST form based upon a legally recognized surrogate decision marker’s understanding of the patient’s preferences. The surrogate can then sign the POLST form on behalf of the patient.
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