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Review of advance medical directives in Texas

A previous post on this blog talked about how some Texas residents may choose to execute what is often referred to as a health care proxy but may also be referred to as a medical power of attorney. To review, the health care proxy is a document a Houston resident can give their loved one or another trusted individual which gives them the power to make medical decisions, even if those decisions are a matter of life or death.

The health care proxy only comes into play when the drafter becomes incapacitated, that is, unable to give valid consent to medical treatment or to make important medical decisions. At that point, doctors will look to the person named in the document for final decisions about the patient's medical care.

There are other types of advance directives available to Texans as well. One common advance directive is formally called the Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, although it may commonly be referred to as a living will. This document offers guidance to a person's medical providers and family members as to what kinds of treatments the patient wants, or does not want, should they become terminally ill. The document only goes into effect if the patient is unable to make decisions for themselves.

Filling out advance directives is a decision that must be made carefully. Moreover, as with other estate planning documents, there are legal formalities and details that one must observe when creating advance directives. It is important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney about these documents.

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