Having a medical power of attorney in Texas is an important matter that should be given the careful consideration it deserves. Your medical power of attorney (medical POA) is a legal document that you –as the principal and as a competent adult –sign in order to designate someone whom you trust to make decisions about your health care in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. The person to whom you assign this important task is known as the agent –or the attorney-in-fact –of your medical power of attorney. Because choosing the right attorney-in-fact for your medical POA is a serious concern, the experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are well prepared to help you create a medical power of attorney that provides you with the peace of mind you are looking for. To learn more, please contact us today.
An attorney in fact is not necessarily an attorney at all (although he or she certainly can be). Instead, an attorney-in-fact is someone who is authorized to conduct the principal of the POA’s business, and when the written power of attorney is a medical power of attorney, this means that the attorney-in-fact will be making medical decisions on behalf of the principal.
Choosing Your Attorney-in-Fact
Choosing someone whom you trust implicitly is obviously critical when it comes to selecting the attorney-in-fact for your medical power of attorney. The basic attributes you are looking for include:
- Someone whom you know to be trustworthy
- Someone with whom you are comfortable working
- Someone who thoroughly understands your wishes regarding medical care and is willing to carry them out
Additionally, while your attorney-in-fact must be at least 18 years old, you will want to choose someone who has the maturity to make difficult decisions in difficult situations, which generally calls for someone who has reached a greater age. Further, choosing someone who is close in proximity can help eliminate the additional complexities that come with distance. Another important factor is whether or not your attorney-in-fact has the time necessary to devote to making important medical decisions on your behalf in the event you need him or her to do so. Ultimately, you do not want the responsibilities inherent to being your attorney-in-fact for your medical POA to exceed the capacities of the person whom you choose. In other words, there are many important considerations regarding selecting the right attorney-in-fact for your medical power of attorney in Texas.
How Your Medical POA Works
Your medical power-of-attorney is only concerned with decisions that relate to your health care, and it should be written in exact accordance with your wishes and specifications. Your POA can address wide-ranging healthcare concerns, including:
- Managing your personal care
- Hiring a personal care assistant for you
- Deciding which medical treatments you will receive
- Making decisions regarding your overall health care
Your medical POA will be constrained by the parameters you include in the document and by all applicable legal restrictions. Those areas of medical care that may be subject to specific conditions can include:
- The withdrawal of life-support systems
- The withdrawal of fluids and nutrition
- Medical treatment that is solely palliative (designed to provide physical comfort only)
Your Medical Power of Attorney
Your medical power of attorney, once carefully considered, written, and executed (signed) will need to be notarized. You should then provide your attorney-in-fact with the original (keeping a copy in a safe place). It is also important to distribute copies to all of the following that apply:
- Your primary care doctor
- Any specialists who regularly treat you
- The medical facility where you receive medical care and treatment
- Close family members whom you want to know your wishes
- Your attorney
- The administrator at the care facility where you live, such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility
Your medical power of attorney can be revoked by you at any time, and you can also designate a different attorney-in-fact at any time.
By Way of Example
Considering a common example is one of the best ways to better understand what it means to have a medical power of attorney and just how important selecting the right attorney-in-fact for you is.
Toward this end, let us consider the hypothetical example of Jen, whose father, John, is undergoing chemotherapy. While having a medical power of attorney is a good idea for everyone, it is especially important for anyone who is experiencing a serious illness. Jen thinks it is time to address the matter of a medical POA with her father, and the first order of business in this situation is to establish that John is physically and mentally well enough to understand the significance of creating a medical POA –and of selecting an attorney-in-fact –before creating the document.
John’s medical POA will outline all of John’s wishes regarding medical treatment moving forward (in the event that he is no longer able to do so on his own behalf). If Jen lives with her family across the country, she may not be a good choice for John’s attorney-in-fact, and John will need to carefully consider who the best choice is. Jen, however, can help John with the process of setting up his medical power of attorney, and the best way to ensure that it is legal and binding –and that it adequately addresses John’s wishes –is by working closely with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney, such as the attorneys at Ibekwe Law.