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What should I know about a medical power of attorney?

Drafting estate planning documents in Texas should be comprehensive and adhere to all the needs and desires the person has. For some, a health proxy is one of the key factors they will think about as they formulate strategies for their estate plan. Understanding all the various aspects and requirements for a medical power of attorney is one of the most important factors for it being complete and achieving the desired ends.

With a medical power of attorney, it is possible to designate an agent who will make the decisions on the person’s behalf if it is determined that the person is incompetent to make those decisions. The medical power of attorney provides the representative the right to make all health care decisions based on the person’s wishes. For example, the representative will have the right to refuse treatment on behalf of the person. This includes any attempts to move forward with life-saving techniques.

The person who is seeking the medical power of attorney must complete it while he or she remains competent to make those decisions. To be valid, it must be witnessed by two people. One of the witnesses cannot be a health care provider of the person. Nor can it be a spouse, heir or an employee. A common concern is what happens if the person becomes incapacitated before completing the medical power of attorney. If that happens, then it might be wise to have a guardianship.

The person can have an advanced directive. This will inform the attending physician that extraordinary measures are not to be undertaken to save the person’s life if there is a life-threatening condition or illness and death is imminent. If there is no guardian nor medical power of attorney after the person has become incapacitated, the attending physician will make the decisions with cooperation from a spouse, an adult child, a parent, or the closest living relative.

People who would like to make sure their goals are carried out even if they become incapacitated should consider having a medical power of attorney. Before doing so, however, it is crucial to have a grasp on the entire process and follow through on it based on the law. A law firm experienced in estate planning, including helping people with a medical power of attorney, is a must.

Source:, “Health Care Directives,” accessed on Feb. 20, 2018