When Texans consider all that is involved in estate planning, one of the most important decisions they can make is whether or not to include a power of attorney for healthcare. Arguably the most important part of planning your estate will involve choosing your spouse, family member or close friend to be your advocate when it comes to future care, the choice of medications or end-of-life decisions.
Where a living will is an advance directive that spells out preferences for end-of-life decisions, like the choice of treatments or the type of care preferred, a power of attorney (POA) entrusts a loved one with responsibilities that will ensure that the individual’s wishes are honored.
A medical power of attorney in Texas
In Texas, medical power of attorney, or MPOA, is a specific form of durable POA. It is also a type of advance directive that makes clear the wishes of an individual, called the principal, concerning future health care decisions. An MPOA gives the person chosen by the principal, called the agent, the power to make medical decisions on their behalf.
The choice of agent is critical in ensuring that a person’s values, priorities and wishes are respected as well as their religious and moral beliefs pertaining to future medical treatments, medications and surgeries.
An MPOA will only go into effect once a person’s doctor states in writing that the principal can no longer make decisions for themselves. An MPOA will last until:
- the principal is once again able to make their own medical decisions,
- the principal revokes it,
- the principal creates a new MPOA and picks a different agent, or
- an expiration date, if there is one.
If the MPOA expires while the principal is incompetent, it will still remain in effect until the principal’s conditions changes.
Estate planning elements
When making an estate plan, it is important to consider all aspects of the estate, including financial and health considerations. Along with a will or trust, which will designate how the assets of the estate are to be distributed, and a financial POA to oversee the financial aspects of the estate, making sure that your future care wishes are honored as well is critically important. It can help a great deal to get experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel for advice on all legal and medical aspects of estate planning.