A medical power of attorney form specifies that witnesses to the execution of the power of attorney may not be related by blood or marriage.

Are sons in law and daughters in law included in that restriction?

  • I made a couple of assumptions in my edit. If they are incorrect, please correct it yourself or let me know so I can. I am not sure why the earlier comments have been deleted without explanation. – phoog Jan 19 '17 at 17:35
  • Medical powers of attorney are regulated by state law, so please specify a state. – Nate Eldredge Jan 20 '17 at 3:36

The point of the restriction is to ensure that witnesses don't have an interest in the issues for which the power of attorney is being granted. A son in law or daughter in law probably has as much interest or nearly as much interest as his or her spouse, so I would think that those relationships are included in the restriction.

  • @K-C I think phoog's reasoning is right. The purpose is very likely to be to prevent someone with a likely economic interest in someone dying from making possible a document that facilitates that person's death. Also, "genetic relatives" can't possibly have its maximal meaning because that would include everyone on Earth. – ohwilleke Jan 19 '17 at 17:24
  • @K-C the purpose came from searching the web. It appears that witnesses are supposed to be disinterested and that those related by blood or marriage are typically disqualified as witnesses. Medical power of attorney forms that I have found online include a witness statement in which the witness declares not to be related to the principal by blood or marriage. – phoog Jan 19 '17 at 17:33

It depends on the state. In Alaska, AS 13.52.010(e) says

At least one of the individuals used as a witness for a durable power of attorney for health care shall be someone who is not

(1) related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption;  or

(2) entitled to a portion of the estate of the principal upon the principal's death under a will or codicil of the principal existing at the time of execution of the durable power of attorney for health care or by operation of law then existing.

Washington state only requires the signature of the principle. California only requires that the witness not be the attorney-in-fact. Ohio requires

at least two individuals who are adults and who are not ineligible to be witnesses under this division. Any person who is related to the principal by blood, marriage, or adoption, any person who is designated as the attorney in fact or alternate attorney in fact in the instrument, the attending physician of the principal, and the administrator of any nursing home in which the principal is receiving care are ineligible to be witnesses.

Notice that "blood, marriage, or adoption" is used in the two states that have relatedness restrictions, and in-laws are related by marriage.

  • The Ohio law exclusion of treating medical facility personnel is pretty typical and also goes to economic conflict of interest. – ohwilleke Jan 20 '17 at 0:22
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    Taken literally, "related by blood" would seem to include, say, fourteenth cousins, and practically everyone would be a blood relative of everyone else. It seems unlikely this is the intent of the legislature, so I wonder if there is a more precise definition, either in statute or case law, in any of these states? Such a definition might also clarify whether in-laws are to be included. – Nate Eldredge Jan 20 '17 at 0:31
  • Well, I think "by marriage" does say whether in-laws are related. I agree that "related by blood" is pretty vague, but Ohio law (I've spent time in ORC) doesn't bother with further details. – user6726 Jan 20 '17 at 0:53
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    It's not so clear to me. Another interpretation is that the only people "related by marriage" are the spouses themselves. – Nate Eldredge Jan 20 '17 at 3:35

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