Medical Powers of Attorney | Health Care Agents

If you cannot make your own medical decisions — that is, if you lose the capacity to make health care decisions — someone else can make those decisions for you. This is increasingly important due to the growing elderly population, our blended families, and the technologies that are available to save and extend lives.

Based in Houston, McCreary Law Office works with Texas clients to draft or update medical powers of attorney as a part of comprehensive estate and health care planning.

Who Makes Medical Decisions for You in Texas if You Are Unable?

If you have not appointed your own agent, then your doctor and a “qualified relative” as specified under Texas law may make health care decisions for you. For many, this is fine as the priorities are as follows:

  1. spouse
  2. available adult children
  3. parents
  4. nearest living relative

However, this can become problematic in situations such as if you are not married and your adult children disagree or if your parents disagree. If you are separated from your spouse, you also might want to name someone else to make your medical decisions. Also, if you are in a long-term relationship but not married, this document is even more critical if you prefer to have your partner as the person to carry out your personal wishes.

Choosing Your Health Care Agent with a Medical Power of Attorney

Instead of leaving it up to state law to know who would make your medical decisions for you if you cannot, you can appoint that person in advance. This is done with a Medical Power of Attorney. By naming that person — your agent — in advance, your health care team can more easily interact with that person to guide your medical treatment. Naming that person in advance also can alleviate arguments among family members when they disagree.

The person with decision-making power has broad powers that take effect if your doctor certifies that you cannot make your own health care decisions. Your agent (the person you’ve named) can withdraw, withhold, or request life-sustaining or life-saving treatments (according to any advance directives you have). But a medical power of attorney is not only for end-of-life issues. Who will make your decisions if you are unconscious after a car accident? Who will make your medical decisions if you are in the middle of surgery, and your doctor needs permission to do something else? Planning in advance helps everyone.

Limits and Options for a Medical Power of Attorney in Texas

Some important considerations should be part of your medical power of attorney, and you get to decide how much authority you give your agent. In Texas, special and separate powers must be granted for certain mental health treatment, particularly hospitalization. For women, decisions about what to do if you are pregnant need to be considered and oftentimes included as part of the medical power of attorney. (However, Texas law does not allow the removal of life-sustaining treatment if a person is pregnant.) The issues around the limitations or grants of power are important to consider, which is why working with an attorney in understanding these grants of power can be important.

Your medical power of attorney is only one of several pieces of the medical planning documents that should be a part of every estate plan. And naming your agent in advance can be a great gift to your loved ones.

Contact McCreary Law Office's Houston Estate Planning Office

For more information on establishing a valid medical power of attorney in Texas and how McCreary Law Office can help, contact the Houston office directly or complete the online form, and we can schedule an introductory call.