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What is a living will?

Among other beneficiary concerns, loved ones of someone who is either ill or just getting to an advanced age may wonder what exactly they should do if their loved one is facing a difficult, and possibly life or death, medical decision and is unable to speak with doctors himself.

Fortunately, Houston, Texas, residents have a number of vehicles they can use that will make such decisions a lot easier for their loved ones to make and can also give medical providers the reassurance they need that what the family is requesting is in fact consistent with their patient's wishes.

One such document a Texas resident can use in this state is called a "living will." To be clear, a living will has nothing to do with how a person's property will get divided either while they are still alive or, for that matter, after they die. Rather, through a living will, a person gives families and doctors directions about how they want to be treated in the event they are not able to make medical decisions for themselves.

The living will need not be particularly detailed, although it may be advisable to have particular instructions regarding what treatments a person does or does not want. The living will is, however, limited to situations in which a medical is going to be used to prolong life by sustaining a person's important bodily functions; it cannot be used to decline medicinal treatment for things like pain relief.

While Texas residents can also appoint a person to make health care decisions for them and then discuss their wishes with that person, a living will also puts an obligation on a doctor in Texas either to follow the directions in the will or try to transfer the patient to another doctor.

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