If you don’t have a medical power of attorney, then someone who you would not have chosen might end up making medical decisions for you. The only situation where someone else could make medical decisions for you is when you are incapacitated. Incapacitated means you have become so ill that you physically or mentally cannot properly communicate with your doctor.
If you have a medical power of attorney in place, it will dictate who has the right to make medical decisions for you. If you don’t, then Texas law dictates that an adult or group of adults may make those decisions for you. The prioritized list sanctioned by law is below:
1) the patient’s spouse;
2) an adult child of the patient who has the waiver and consent of all other qualified adult children of the patient to act as the sole decision-maker;
3) a majority of the patient’s reasonably available adult children;
4) the patient’s parents; or
5) the individual clearly identified to act for the patient by the patient before the patient became incapacitated, the patient’s nearest living relative, or a member of the clergy.
For some people this list may seem fine at first glance. Yet for others this prioritized list is not at all what they would choose due to their specific family dynamics. For example, perhaps they are not married, but they are in a long term relationship. And they would want their partner making medical decisions for them instead of their children or parents. Or perhaps they have a really bad relationship with one or both of their parents. Then no matter what they would not want them to be making decisions on their behalf.
And even if this list seems ok at first glance to you, there are potentially situations where you would still want a document in place that dictates who should be able to make medical decisions for you. Perhaps you are married, and you know that you would want your spouse to make these decisions for you. But what if at the time you need them to make these decisions they are also incapacitated? What happens in life can of course be very unpredictable.
Bottom line. The only way to make sure that the right people would be able to make medical decisions for you is to have a medical power of attorney in place.
If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments section below or contact me directly.