Through an advanced healthcare directive, a person is able to make choices about the medical treatment they want to receive of they become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves when sick or injured. To learn more about creating an advanced healthcare directive to ensure your wishes are followed in the state of Texas, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of Jason Carr at (214) 800-2366.
Who Will Make Decisions If I Do Not Have an Advanced Healthcare Directive?
There is no requirement to have advanced healthcare directives to receive medical care. Additionally, having an advanced healthcare directive does not impact insurance or premiums in any way. However, when someone lacks an advanced care directive and is unable to communicate his or her wishes, a close family member will become responsible for making decisions and consenting to treatment.
For married patients, this person will be a spouse. Otherwise, it could be adult children. Decisions will fall to one person if all the adult children agree on who should be the sole decision maker, or it will be in accordance with the decisions of the majority of the available adult children. If the patient has neither a spouse or adult children, the decision maker will be the patient’s parents or nearest living relative.
Since loved ones may disagree on the best treatment and more than one person may have the right to provide consent, it is easy for conflict to occur in the absence of advanced healthcare directives. Although a court judge will resolve any issues, it is always preferable to avoid disagreements if possible through clearly established and legally executed documents.
How to Make an Advanced Healthcare Directive
Advanced healthcare directives need to be in writing. There is no need to notarize the documents — it is simply necessary to receive the signatures of two competent adult witnesses. It is best to make directives before suffering from illness, rather than waiting until a medical crisis occurs. This is because it is more difficult for patients to think with a clear mind and make appropriate decisions when they are suffering pain, or their family members are worried. To receive legal advice about making advanced healthcare directives and start the planning process now, contact the compassionate Texas estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Jason Carr.
Types of Advanced Healthcare Directives
There are five types of advanced healthcare directives in the state of Texas, the terms for which are specified in the Health and Safety Code, Title 2, Chapter 166. It is possible to execute just one, several, or even all of them.
Also called a directive to the doctor and family or proxy, a living will allows a person to determine treatment for an incurable illness or irreversible injury. A living will covers the provision, withdrawal, and withholding of life-sustaining care. It only applies when two physicians certify the patient’s condition as terminal.
Medical Power of Attorney
Through a medical power of attorney, a person is able to appoint someone to make medical decisions in a situation where the patient is incapacitated and unable to make his or her wishes known. It is only effective while the patient is in a state of incapacity. This means that, if the patient recovers the ability to make medical decisions in the future, the agent loses medical power of attorney.
In-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order
Capable adults can refuse cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while they are in the hospital by completing an in-hospital do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. This will apply if their breathing or heart stops.
Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order
Similar to the above, an out-of-hospital DNR order means the emergency medical team will not resuscitate the patient, but in this case it refers to non-hospital environments, including outpatient clinics, doctor’s offices, and even the emergency room of a hospital. It gives patients the chance to die a natural death, although medical staff will still take steps to make the person comfortable, including through treatment for pain. Patients may receive emergency treatment to keep them stable until they can reach a medical facility.
It is important to note that this is the only directive emergency medical professionals can honor, as patients must be under the care of a physician for a living will or medical power of attorney to take effect. To notify staff of the out-of-hospital DNR order, patients should carry a copy of the form or wear an ID bracelet.
Mental Health Treatment Declaration
The declaration for mental health treatment is covered by Chapter 137, Title 6, Civil Practice and Remedies Code in the state of Texas. This legal paperwork allows patients to declare they do not consent to electro-convulsive therapy and psychoactive drugs. It takes effect after the court declares the person incapacitated. The paperwork will expire after three years, unless the person is incapacitated within this timeframe.
What Should I Do with My Advanced Healthcare Directive Forms?
People should give a copy of their advanced healthcare directives both to medical staff and to family members. They should also keep the original at home where it is safe but easily accessible. Medical power of attorneys should receive a copy and be aware of the location of the original forms.
Patients or their families should let medical staff know that a patient has advanced healthcare directives if the patient is admitted to hospital or is receiving any kind of medical treatment. It is important to note that the paperwork is also valid in other states.
How to Update an Advanced Healthcare Directive
It is possible to revoke an advanced healthcare directive at any time. However, to make or update an advanced healthcare directive, the person must be competent. To make an update, it is necessary to create new paperwork and destroy the previous forms. Everyone who received a copy of the earlier version (including the medical power of attorney) will need a new copy.
Creating Advanced Healthcare Directives
Although it is possible to create advanced healthcare directives without a lawyer, it is important that family members and medical staff interpret the patient’s wishes correctly and that decisions are permissible by Texas state law. Working with an attorney to create your advanced healthcare directives can ensure your wishes are carried out in the event you are unable to articulate your preferences. Schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Jason Carr by calling (214) 800-2366 to discuss your specific situation and ensure your wishes are protected