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What Is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney is a legal document that transfers your authority to make medical decisions to another person in the event of your incapacitation. A Directive to Physicians can be used to bind medical professionals and family members to make certain healthcare decisions that you selected during the signing of the document when you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition. Practically speaking, both of these documents are opportunities for you to take control of your last days on earth, and leave this life on your own terms.

Top 3 Reasons to Draft Your Medical Power of Attorney and Directive to Physicians

#1. The person who gets to choose your fate doesn’t know your preference because you never documented it.

Many of us live an entire lifetime, rarely ever thinking about which medical procedures we want implemented once our hourglass is almost empty. For those who do discuss their wishes, only a fraction can rest assured they will be executed. Often times, the person you confided in to carry out your last desires has already passed away themselves, or has drifted out of your life years before you ever became incapacitated. Simply put, don’t assume handshake deals you made in the past will be known by your friends and family. Instead, sign a Medical Power of Attorney and a Directive to Physicians. Legally documenting your end-of-life desires is the only way to guarantee they will be understood by the person in charge of your wellbeing, regardless of whom they may be.

#2. The person you would prefer to make health decisions on your behalf might not possess the legal authority to make those decisions.

Unfortunately, telling somebody your wishes over dinner doesn’t automatically grant them legal authority. Without a Medical Power of Attorney, the law determines which of your surviving family members inherit medical authority by prioritizing them in the following manner:

  • 1st, spouse
  • 2nd, adult children
  • 3rd, parents
  • 4th, nearest relative

This pecking order might work in some cases, but it’s not flexible enough for every case. Having a Medical Power of Attorney ensures that the people you want to make your healthcare decisions will have the legal authority to do so.

#3. Making difficult decisions now spares your family emotional pain later

Without a Medical Power of Attorney or Directive to Physicians, challenging choices about your end-of-life care may fall on the shoulders of an unsuspecting family member, resulting in preventable suffering. Feuds over an incapacitated family member––what decisions are made and who gets to make them––are more frequent than you might think. Sometimes, they even result in lawsuits between family members. By making tough medical choices now, not only do you ensure that your preferences are respected, you reduce the chance of those medical choices causing your family emotional pain in the future.

Final Thoughts

The quality of your end-of-life treatment is too important to leave in the hands of fate. Fortunately, you have a choice. You still have the opportunity to engrave your preferences into a legal document that will speak for you after you can no longer speak for yourself.

If you live in the Austin or San Antonio area, call Hailey-Petty Law Firm at (512) 910-8977 or (210) 570-2458 to schedule or discuss decisions regarding your medical power of attorney today.