Very few people make their best and most thoughtful decisions in the middle of a healthcare crisis. This very reason is why it is critical to talk to your loved ones regarding who will speak for you in the event that you cannot speak for yourself.
People who choose to plan ahead have a number of options to determine WHO will speak for them, and WHAT that person may do. Without a plan, Texas statutes determine who will be able to act on a person’s behalf when he or she is incapacitated. When families must make decisions in the midst of a medical emergency without a plan in place, the result can be heated disagreement on treatment and fractured relationships.
With or without a plan, the only time that someone else can make a medical decision for you is if you are unable to do so yourself. Many people think of this in the context of advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s. But think, also, of a catastrophic car accident. Texas is one of only five states that does not recognize a simple document. For a Medical Power of Attorney to be valid in this state, it must meet a number of statutory requirements.
Directives to Physicians (commonly known as living wills) allow individuals to dictate their end of life wishes. The Directive serves as a playbook to surrogate decision makers, demonstrating what is most important to the patient in terms of comfort, treatment options and quality of life choices. Making an end-of-life decision is never easy, but doing so without clear guidance as to the patient’s wishes puts family members or friends in a near-impossible position.
These decisions can be both complex and emotional, which is why they are best considered with the gift of time.