What is an Advance Directive and Why Do I Need One?

Many Texans have considered the medical care they would want if they were extremely ill. However, if these wishes are not written down, family members or medical professionals may act in a way contrary to what the person would have intended. In order to ensure this does not happen, people can create an advance healthcare directive.

Advance directives are a legal document that expresses a person’s decisions related to end-of-life care. Below is a more detailed explanation of what to include in a Houston advance healthcare directive, along with the repercussions of not making one.

Why Advance Directives are Critical

In a recent end-of-life case, a patient sued a hospital when it assumed decision-making authority over his medical care when he was incapacitated and treated him without the consent of him or his parents—whom he had previously authorized to make medical decisions on his behalf if he could not do so himself. The hospital wound up making medical decisions for the patient; this all could have been avoided if the patient created an advance healthcare directive that the hospital and his parents could follow. Then, the hospital would have known the patient’s wishes and probably would have avoided a lawsuit.

An advance healthcare directive generally explains which treatments a person wants if they are injured in a way that leaves them unconscious. This generally includes the use of dialysis and breathing machines, tube feeding, and organ or tissue donation. Additionally, it is vital to include whether a person wants to be resuscitated if their breathing or heartbeat stops, which is something a hospital will do unless an advance directive tells them otherwise. This directive can be used with your Medical Power of Attorney: this names a person to make medical decisions in the case of incapacitation. This would also avoid the issue in the above lawsuit where the hospital did not think the patient had a healthcare proxy. It is also important to note that creating an advance directive is a living document—meaning it can be adjusted at any moment—in case a person changes their mind about any of the instructions. This means if a person wants to revise the directive years later, they can with the help of an attorney. While an advance directive may not seem critical—especially for healthy individuals—it can make a difference and ensure people get the care they prefer at the end of their life.

For individuals who want to create an advance healthcare directive, they should contact an experienced estate planning attorney who can help them create an advanced directive that follows their values and wishes.

Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney

If you or a loved one is interested in creating an advance directive, contact the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. We understand the importance of creating estate planning documents—including an advanced healthcare directive—that fit your needs and desires. Our knowledgeable attorneys will work closely with you and answer any questions you may have about the process. Creating an advance directive will ease much of your stress about end-of-life care, so give us a call today at 713-333-8900 to schedule a consultation.

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