Estate planning is a foundational part of full preparedness in Texas and across the nation. People want to know their loved ones are protected and their assets will be allocated based on their preferences. There are other aspects of estate planning that should also be considered to have a comprehensive document.

Given the current circumstances, health care directives and powers of attorney have garnered greater attention. Understanding the basics of a medical power of attorney and health care directives is essential when considering it.

What a medical power of attorney does

A medical power of attorney is a document in which an individual gives another person the right to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. The document will go into effect if the individual is no longer able to make those decisions and this is certified by his or her doctor.

The person making the decisions – the representative – must follow the individual’s detailed desires in terms of medical care. That can include refusing to allow such life-saving procedures such as using a respirator or inserting a feeding tube. Voluntary procedures are not included in the medical power of attorney.

When an individual wants a medical power of attorney, it must be completed and signed while that person is deemed competent. There must be two witnesses. One witness must be independent and not be an heir, employee, spouse or medical caregiver. If there is an advanced directive, the medical professionals providing care will be notified that there are steps that the person does not want taken if the condition is terminal.

Powers of attorney and estate planning may require legal advice

These are complicated issues to navigate and the law can be confusing for those who are unsure of what must be done to ensure their wishes are carried out. To create a will, a trust or any other estate planning device, it is wise to have legal assistance. The same is true for powers of attorney and granting others the right to make life and death medical decisions on the individual’s behalf. The document must be clear and understandable with all the legal requirements adhered to so it is carried out. To make certain this is the case, consulting with experienced legal professionals is a wise step.