Why do I need a Medical Power of Attorney?
Imagine you are rushed to the hospital and rendered unconscious, unable to speak for yourself. In these tragic cases, Texas law automatically assigns a surrogate decision-maker for you in the following order: spouse, reasonably available adult children, parents, or nearest living relative. But what if you do not trust or approve of this default surrogate? Thankfully, Texas law provides another option: the Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA).
The MPOA is a legal document authorizing a designated “agent” to make health care decisions on behalf of a patient, called the “principal.” The principal selects the agent (surrogate) of his or her own choice, a trusted individual such as a close friend or family member. The agent’s authority to make those decisions takes effect when a physician deems the patient incapable of making his or her own medical decisions.
Regardless of whether you agree with Texas law on who your surrogate decision-maker should be, it is wise to draft an MPOA. Having this legally binding document on hand provides extra security that your physician will heed the instructions of your desired surrogate. The MPOA is a prudent way to ensure that your healthcare wishes are honored, but it must be prepared ahead of time!
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How do I make my Medical Power of Attorney Pro-Life?
We do not advise putting any limitations on your surrogate—or any of your unique wishes or instructions—in the MPOA itself. First, this prevents your family from being able to make real time decisions about your real time condition. Second, because the MPOA is a legally binding document, a physician could easily misconstrue that language and use it against you, even unintentionally. Instead, sit down with your surrogate and have a conversation about your specific wishes so that both of you are on the same page. If needed, write down these specific wishes and share them with your surrogate on a separate document so it is non-binding and stays between you and your family. Remember, your surrogate’s job is to make the healthcare decisions you would make!
If you would like Texas Right to Life to provide further explanation and/or help you fill out a Pro-Life Medical Power of Attorney, simply submit the form below and our paralegal will reach out to you to complete the process.