An advance directive is a legal document that tells your family, friends and health care professionals the care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions. Through advance directives, you can make legally valid decisions about your future medical treatment.
You do not need a lawyer to complete your advance directives. However, you should be aware that each state has its own laws for creating advance directives.
There are three advance directives recognized in Texas:
The Texas Medical Power of Attorney appoints someone to speak for you any time you are unable to make your own medical decisions, not only at the end of life. Your attending physician must certify in writing that you are unable to make health care decisions and file the certification in your medical record.
A living will, officially known in Texas as the Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, describes the kind of medical treatments or life-sustaining treatments you would want if you were seriously or terminally ill. A living will should be signed, dated and witnessed by two people, preferably individuals who know you well but are not related to you and are not your potential heirs or your health care providers.
The Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order provides you with the right to withhold or withdraw cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other treatments such as defibrillation and artificial ventilation.
By creating an advance directive, you are making your preferences about medical care known before you're faced with a serious injury or illness. This will spare your loved ones the stress of making decisions about your care while you are sick. Any person 18 years of age or older can prepare an advance directive.
In order to make your directive legally binding, you must sign it, or direct another to sign it, in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the document.