Advance directives let you make important decisions about end-of-life care. If you are familiar with the concept of a living will, then you already have an idea of what these documents do.
Each state has slightly different regulations and laws concerning advance directives. Texas is no different.
Which directives are available?
As explained by Texas Health and Human Services, an advance directive is essentially a way for you to communicate your wishes when you are otherwise unable to do so. There are five main categories:
- Out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate forms
- Medical powers of attorney
- Statutory durable powers of attorney
- Directives to physicians, family and surrogates
- Declarations for mental health treatment
A DNR form would tell emergency personnel how to act — not to attempt life-sustaining treatment after your heart stopped, for example. Medical powers of attorney and durable powers of attorney appoint trusted people to take care of your medical and property decisions respectively. Advance directives and declarations tell doctors, family members, surrogates and mental health professionals about your wishes regarding care.
When do you use advance directives?
You do not actively use advance directives. Instead, they come into effect when you are no longer able to make your own decisions. Examples might include becoming comatose after an injury, entering advanced stages of degenerative diseases and so on.
How do you create an advance directive?
There are four main steps to creating an effective advance directive: choosing the correct type, drafting a precise document, officializing the directive and maintaining your plan. Although most standard forms are available through state offices, the standard option might not be completely effective for every situation.
Just like wills, advance directives are key parts of most complete estate plans. Also like wills, the laws regarding these documents are subject to change.