Jan Neal Law Firm, LLC

Alabama Estate, Elder and Special Needs Law


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Physician Order For Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

You can get a good deal of information from the internet, but it is not always accurate for your state.  An example is the Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) for Alabama.  This is an advance directive agreement between a doctor and a patient with advanced, chronic, or end-stage illness stating the patient’s choices for treatment. A doctor signing the form turns those choices into physician orders to assure that the patient gets only the treatment he or she wants. It is known as a portable medical order.  

There are a number of states which recognize this national form first developed in 1991 in Oregon, but Alabama is not one of them.  The closest thing Alabama has is a portable DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) which only instructs health care providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient’s breathing stops or if the patient’s heart stops beating. 

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, A POLST form from another state (or downloaded from the internet) cannot be a substitute for the Alabama Portable DNAR form published by Health Department. If a hospital or other health care entity wants to use its own DNAR rather than the Health Department form, it can, but it will not be portable from facility to facility.

If you want specific treatments honored in Alabama you need to either name an agent who knows your wishes to act for you as your health care proxy or prepare a detailed Advance Directive For Health Care, but no doctor will sign off on it.    


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Publication on Advance Directives Available for Download

Power of attorney

At the top of this page you will see a link to our Publications. There you will find an e-book recently published, Guide to Alabama Advance Directives. It can be downloaded and printed or read online. It explains the different ways a person can become an agent for another in Alabama and how to evaluate which document you may need. This e-book will remain available at Publications but is being posted here.


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Resources for UNA Social Workers

Last week I spoke to the alumni social workers group at The University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama, and shared information about authority and capacity issues for seniors.  I promised to post additional information for reference on our web site, so here you have it.

The Alabama Uniform Power of Attorney Act effective January 1, 2012, is found at Alabama Code (1975) Sections 26-1A-101 through 404.  The standard power of attorney form is found at Section 26–1A–301.  This power is presumed durable without specific language being required like previous powers of attorney.

ALA. CODE § 26-1A-120(a)(3) provides that a person may not require an additional or different form of power of attorney for authority granted in the power of attorney presented, and a person who refuses to effect a transaction in reliance upon an acknowledged power of attorney may be subject a court order mandating that the person effect the transaction.  If the document is found to be valid, attorneys fees and costs incurred may be awarded.

The Portable Physician Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Orders regulation  is found at Board of Health 420-5-19-.02.  Different facilities can continue to use their own forms, but for the order to be portable the statutory form provided in the regulation is required.

The capacity assessment materials I discussed produced by the American Bar Association and American Psychological Association can be found here.

What a great group of social workers I met, and I look forward to speaking again to the group in August.