Medical Directive Medical Power of Attorney

Need a Medical Power of Attorney in Waco Texas

A medical power of attorney is a paper that allows a person to designate a trusted person to make medical decisions when you become unconscious or not able to make those medical decisions for yourself.

The person designating what happens to them is called a “principal.” The person selected is called an “agent.” A Texas medical power of attorney gives that agent absolute ability to make health care decisions for the principal unless the agent’s authority is expressly restricted.

A medical power of attorney is not just for the elderly. Unexpected injuries or illness can occur to any adult. So it’s an essential document for anyone to have.


What makes a medical power of attorney work in Texas?

A valid medical power of attorney in Texas must either be:


  1. signed by the principal in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign the document; or
  2. signed by the principal in the presence of a notary.

If the principal is physically unable to sign, another person may sign the medical power of attorney with the principal’s name, as long as the document is signed in the principal’s presence and at the principal’s direction.


Who can be a witness to a medical power of attorney in Texas?

The witnesses who sign a power of attorney must be competent adults. At least one of the witnesses cannot be someone who:


  • you have designated to make health care treatment decisions on your behalf
  • is related to you by blood or marriage;
  • is a beneficiary of your estate;
  • has a claim on your estate;
  • is your attending physician;
  • your attending physician employs; or
  • is an employee of a health care facility where you reside, if the employee provides direct care to you or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or any parent organization of the health care facility.

Signing in front of a notary eliminates the need for signing in the presence of two witnesses and the complications involved in analyzing whether a witness would be disqualified.


When does a power of attorney start working?

A medical power of attorney in Texas is immediately effective after being executed and delivered to the agent. It does not expire unless it contains a specific termination date, or the principal revokes it.

But even if the medical power of attorney has a specific termination date, and the principal is incompetent on that expiration date, the medical power of attorney continues to be valid until the principal becomes competent.


When does the agent have the authority to act on the medical power of attorney?

The principal remains in control if the principal can make medical decisions. But if the principal cannot make the medical decisions, the agent can legally make those medical decisions in Texas.


Who gets to determine if the principal cannot make medical decisions?

When the principal’s attending physician certifies in writing that based on the physician’s reasonable medical judgment that the principal is incompetent and then files that certification in the principal’s medical records, the principal is considered incompetent. Even if deemed incompetent by a physician, no medical provider can give or withhold treatment from the principal if the principal objects.


How to revoke a medical power of attorney in Texas?

The principal can revoke a medical power of attorney by notifying either the agent or health care provider, orally or in writing, of the intent to cancel. That revocation is valid even if the principal is incompetent. A principal can also revoke a medical power of attorney by executing a new one.

If a principal appointed a spouse as the agent, a divorce would revoke the medical power of attorney unless the principal provides otherwise.


Who makes medical decisions without a medical power of attorney?

Texas has a statute that outlines who makes medical decisions if you do not have a power of attorney. Section 313.004 of the Texas Health and Safety Code provides that if an adult patient of a hospital lacks capacity, an adult can act as a surrogate. In order of priority, the following people can consent to treatment:


  1. Your spouse.
  2. An adult child, with the waiver and consent of all other qualified adult children.
  3. The majority of your children.
  4. Your parents.
  5. An individual identified to act on your behalf before you became incapacitated, your nearest living relative, or a member of the clergy.


Getting a medical power of attorney in Waco Texas

The estate planning and probate attorneys at Dunnam & Dunnam are experienced in the complexities of a medical power of attorney. Many considerations go into these decisions about your medical directives. It’s best to have a lawyer walk you through the different scenarios that can lead to the need for a medical power of attorney. Call an estate planning lawyer at Dunnam & Dunnam for a free consultation at 254-753-6437.

Vance Dunnam Waco Attorney at Dunnam & Dunnam

Vance Dunnam, Jr.

Vance has been licensed by the State Bar of Texas since 1977 and has practiced law in Waco, Texas since 1978.

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Contact an estate planning and probate lawyer in Waco to discuss your medical directive or medical power of attorney.