Texas Estate Planning: The Advance Healthcare Directive

Death is one of the only universally shared aspects of human existence. We live in a diverse world full of people from various cultures, backgrounds, and belief systems, but one thing we all share is that none of us is immortal. However, while the eventuality of death is one of the most predictable aspects of life, when and how the end comes for each of us is rarely predictable.

Nonetheless, though we may be powerless against the inevitability of death, we do have the power to control many of the circumstances surrounding the end of our lives. Most of us have very clear ideas about how we would want decisions about our finances and medical treatment to be handled in an end-of-life situation, but how can you convey those wishes if you are incapacitated?

This is where Texas Advance Directives come into play. Advance directives are legal documents that give you the power to convey your wishes to family and healthcare providers regarding decisions about your treatment should you ever be incapacitated and faced with an end-of-life medical situation.

Not only do advance directives give you the power to ensure your end-of-life care is treated exactly to your specifications, but it is also a gift to your family members that takes the weight and possible guilt about having to make end-of-life decisions for you off of their shoulders. It also removes confusion which can often result in severe fights between your loved ones over how best to handle your care.

There are four types of advance directives in the State of Texas with regard to medical treatment:

1) Directive to Physician and Family or Surrogates — If you are faced with a terminal or irreversible condition, this directive allows you to specify whether you want medical treatment to be administered, withdrawn, or withheld.

2) Medical Power of Attorney — This directive allows you to designate someone to make decisions for you regarding your medical treatment if you become incompetent or incapacitated.

3) Out-Of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order —  This directive, which should be carried with you at all times, allows a competent adult to forgo life-saving treatment and resuscitation from emergency medical personnel in a non-hospital setting.

4) Declaration of Mental Health Treatment — This form allows you to make decisions about whether or not to receive any of three types of mental health treatments: electroconvulsive therapy, psychoactive medication, and emergency mental health treatment. A court must first establish that you are in fact incapacitated for this form to be utilized.

Whether you want to make advance decisions about your end-of-life treatment for personal reasons, to make it easier on your loved ones, or to ensure that treatment is carried out in accordance with your religious beliefs, advance directives are the best possible way to control the circumstances surrounding your eventual passing.

For help with planning and establishing an advance directive, please contact the Amsberry Law Firm today.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.