Health Care Powers of Attorney

Let’s face it: no one wants to talk about what we would do if we ever became seriously ill or injured. It’s not usually your everyday conversation material. It’s morbid, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s a little scary. It can feel almost like a sentence, or an omen.

health care powers of attorney

In school, when we’re about five years old, we’re taught about fire safety and the importance of having an exit plan from the house in case of a fire. They told us to meet with our family members and discuss a strategy for getting out quickly and safely. They said, “Draw a map of the house. Go out the window, forget the cat, leave your toys.” As we grew up, we forgot about our fire safety plans because life is busy and it’s easy to put plans aside when we haven’t experienced a crisis in a while.

Having a “just in case” plan does not just apply to fire safety. It applies to many things. In a perfect world, we’d never need a “just in case”. However, since this is not a perfect world, planning and back-ups are essential. A medical power of attorney is a vital document that will help give you peace of mind in case of critical situations.

A medical power of attorney is a legal document designed to honor your wishes in the event that you are unable to make your own decisions. It does not give away your rights. It designates the power to make medical choices on your behalf to a third party. It is not all-encompassing; when you have a medical power of attorney, it does not mean that the person you designate to be the power of attorney has the ability to make any other decisions about your life. Your finances and your other life decisions are separate. Having a medical power of attorney also does not mean that you automatically lose control over your medical decisions the day you sign it; it only means that someone is looking out for you and will keep your best medical interests in mind in the event you are injured or ill or lose the ability to make competent decisions. Situations where a medical power of attorney would be useful include emergency room visits, planned and unplanned surgeries, EMS calls, memory care facilities, and other unexpected scenarios.

In many states, Texas included, a medical power of attorney must be signed and notarized by an authorized notary public to be a valid legal document. The person you choose to be your medical POA must be at least 18 years of age, and they do not have to sign your document. You can also designate more than one person to be your medical POA in the event that Person A or B is unavailable. Additionally, your medical POA is not irrevocable; in the event you want to change your designated medical POA to someone else, you can do so at any time.

When picking the person you want to be your medical power of attorney, make sure it is someone that can stay level-headed in stressful situations. Pick someone with integrity, someone who knows and understands your values and will respect them. If you’re unsure, ask yourself a few simple questions:

Is the person trustworthy? 
Do they know your wishes? Do they respect your wishes?
Are they a good communicator?
Do they live close by? Are they reachable in case of emergency?
Medical powers of attorney are not just for individuals with risky jobs or for the elderly. They are for everyone. At the end of the day, we are all subject to things happening to us, no matter our age or occupation. Having a medical POA is more than just a document; it is the comfort of knowing that you are in good hands, and it is a semblance of security against the unknown. It is your grown-up fire safety plan. To get started with creating your medical power of attorney, email jfox@foxlawdfw.com or call 469-322-9238. 

August 23rd, 2021

Texas Bar College