I know a person with end stage cancer in Washington state that went with her husband to Hawaii.

She collapsed in Hawaii, went into a coma, went to the ER, and got admitted to hospice. I'm assuming her husband now should automatically have medical power of attorney since she entered into a coma?

Since then, she has recovered greatly. She has woken up, is talking, is lucid, having normal conversation, a good amount of energy, etc. The doctors in Honolulu cleared her to fly back to Seattle on a private plane.

She really wants to go back to Seattle. Her husband forbids it, stating he has medical power of attorney and he gets to decide on everything.

How does a durable medical power of attorney for Washington residents get revoked in a different state once the principal gets better? I'm assuming, but can't confirm, that the hospice must have been given paperwork stating that the husband has the medical power of attorney? She is lucid now, but the husband still is making sure that everyone around knows that all decisions must go through him and him alone.

  • 1
    I presume you would get a lawyer who knows the right forms to complete and the right things to say to the right people to get it revoked, for whatever reasons they're able to justify. This seems very dodgy - a terminal patient being isolated away from home by someone who potentially stands to benefit from doing so? After that patient has demonstrated mental capacity? I doubt the PA even applies since her recovery (but may kick in again if she declines again).
    – user4657
    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:33
  • I've been getting conflicting information. Some websites say she needs to fill out, sign, and notarize a form formally stating she's revoking PA, some say she needs a doctor to sign off on it, and some say as soon as she is lucid and making her own decisions the PA automatically ends without any formal declaration to anyone being necessary. Feb 9, 2018 at 4:23
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    This is why I suggest a lawyer. It varies across jurisdiction and depends on particular facts and circumstances.
    – user4657
    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


Medical Power of Attourney

I'm assuming her husband now should automatically have medical power of attorney since she entered into a coma?


Powers of attorney must be entered into before the person is legally incapable (e.g. in a coma).

It doesn't matter where it was entered into providing that it complies with Hawaiian law. Specifically, it requires two "qualified" adult witnesses known to the person OR before a notary public - one properly entered into in Washington would comply.

Powers of attorney can be cancelled at any time providing the person is legally competent.


If she doesn't have one then Hawaiian law requires a surrogate to make decisions. The patient may designate or disqualify any individual from being a surrogate by informing the supervising health care provider. In the absence of such a notification, the supervising health care provider has to follow a specific process to find all "interested persons" and have them decide who the guardian should be. These are "the patient's spouse, unless legally separated or estranged, a reciprocal beneficiary, any adult child, either parent of the patient, an adult sibling or adult grandchild of the patient, or any adult who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and who is familiar with the patient's personal values" - so, a lot of people.

Surrogates can be removed at any time by the person providing they are legally competent.

Notwithstanding ...

Even if there is an At tourney or Surrogate, the patient has final say in their treatment providing they are legally competent.

Legal Competency

Adults are presumed to be legally competent, however, it is a rebuttable presumption. That said, a person who is capable of understanding their options and clearly articulating which one they want is competent.


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    Thanks for the answer! Her husband is telling everyone that he's got power of attorney and the hospice workers are listening to everything he says out of fear of being sued by him. He doesn't understand medicine or healthcare at all and his current actions are actually having a detrimental effect on his wife. Given that she's actually lucid, does any paperwork need to be signed by her or do any tests need to be done on her in order to revoke the power of attorney from her husband? It's a bit difficult because she is still in a very physically frail condition. Feb 9, 2018 at 8:51
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    Would I be correct in assuming that in the event that the power of attorney is not a durable one, all she would need to do is 1) verbally tell her husband that she wants to make decisions on her own behalf on all things from now on, and 2) call up the hospice company to state that she will now be making decisions on her own behalf? Feb 9, 2018 at 9:40

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