For many people, organ and tissue donation is a final act of good that they can do after they have passed. In many states, individuals can tell if they are an organ donor based off of their driver’s license; however, they assume this is all they need to do. Even if a person’s driver’s license contains an organ or tissue donor statement, adding this directive to a Houston estate plan is still important. Although this may seem like a complicated process, below are steps individuals should take if they are an organ donor—or if they wish to become an organ donor.
Individuals who are an organ or tissue donor must notify the person named in their health care proxy. A health care proxy is a document that names someone to act as their proxy—or agent—to make health care decisions on the person’s behalf if they become incapacitated or are unable to make decisions on their own. By letting the health care proxy know about this directive, it can help them as they are making critical medical choices. In many circumstances, these are time-sensitive choices: if a proxy is looking through old writings or trying to recall conversations to remember what the person would want, it will be too late.
If an individual does not leave instructions about organ donation, Texas law decides who will make the decision for them after their passing. For minors who have passed away, the parents get to choose whether or not to donate their organs. Per Texas Code, the right to decide about organ donation for adults goes to their health care proxy—if they have named one. This is another reason why having a health care proxy in place is so critical. If a person has not named a health care proxy, their spouse, adult children, parents, and adult sibling can make the decision—in that order.
Additionally, for individuals who strongly believe that organ donation is not for them, this should also be put in writing—either in the health care directive or will. Otherwise, family members may consent to the organ donation, not knowing it is against the person’s wishes. If the document is signed in front of two witnesses—and they know of the wish not to donate an organ—they are legally barred from donating any part of that person’s body.
Because organ donation is such an impactful, yet stressful, topic, Texans should discuss organ donation with an experienced attorney who can incorporate it into their estate plan.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is interested in updating their estate plan, contact the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. We have years of experience handling a wide variety of estate planning matters and will ensure your estate plan fits your needs and special circumstances. Thinking about the future—and making decisions like becoming an organ donor—can often be intimidating and scary; that’s why we are here to help. To speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, give us a call at 713-333-8900.