Estate planning and advanced directives are a critical step that Texans can take to ensure that their wishes are effectuated if they become incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly. Estate planning is essential for all individuals, despite their wealth or age. Although, in some cases, Texas law provides residents with tools to create these documents on their own, it is vital that individuals consult with a Houston estate planning attorney to make sure that their documents are valid.
In creating Houston advanced care documents, individuals should include both health-related and financial planning directives. The three most essential parts of a person’s health-related advance planning documents are a medical power of attorney designation, directive to physicians (living will), and out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate (DNR) instructions. These documents will provide doctors, healthcare providers, and family members with guidance on how to proceed with a loved one’s care. They remain in effect unless an individual revokes or changes them.
Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)
A medical power of attorney allows a person to designate a loved one to make medical decisions on their behalf if a doctor determines that they cannot make their own treatment decisions. These are only valid during incapacitation; the designee loses their power if the designator regains competency.
Directive to Physicians (Living Will)
A Houston living will is a directive to physicians, which states a person’s wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures. This typically applies in instances where two physicians conclude that a person is approaching death or their condition is irreversible or terminal, i.e. to pull the “plug” or not.
Do Not Resuscitate
DNR directives are designed to notify emergency responders that a person wants to die a natural death, and they do not wish to be resuscitated. These directives do not affect palliative care or any treatment that works to reduce pain or make a person more comfortable. Additionally, individuals can indicate specific instances when these documents apply. These are the only documents that emergency medical providers can honor because the other forms are only in effect when a person is under the care of a doctor.
Other Advanced Planning Documents
Financial advance planning documents include a durable power of attorney. This document can cover specific situations or apply to all parts of a person’s financial affairs. It is vital that individuals consult with an attorney before creating this document to ensure that it accurately portrays their wishes. Unlike a living will which expresses health care directives, living trusts allow another person to help manage assets during a person’s lifetime and distribute assets upon their death.
There are many legal, financial, and practical implications when people fail to properly create these documents. To avoid these complicated and emotional challenges, individuals should contact an attorney to draft and implement their estate planning documents.
Do You Need Assistance with Your Houston Estate Planning Documents?
A Houston estate planning attorney at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, can help individuals and their families with various estate matters, including, charitable planning, incapacity planning, inheritance planning, and special planning needs. Our attorneys understand the importance of creating ironclad, clear, and enforceable documents. We work hand-in-hand with clients to ensure that their wishes are appropriately detailed and documented. Contact our Houston estate planning, and elder law attorneys at 713-333-8900 to schedule a consultation.