Every day, suffering patients are confronted with significant – and often alarming – medical decisions. But who makes critical decisions when the patient is unable to speak for himself? This problem can be resolved by a medical power of attorney (MPOA).
In a nutshell, an MPOA is a legal document authorizing a designated “agent” to make health care decisions on behalf of a patient, called the “principal.” The agent’s authority to make decisions goes into effect when the patient is determined incapable of decision making. The patient selects the agent of his choice, a trusted individual such as a close friend or family member.
An MPOA is different from a durable power of attorney, which only authorizes an agent to make general financial decisions. An MPOA is also different from what is commonly known as a living will (or its Pro-Life counterpart, a will to live), a legal document in which a person indicates their own medical preferences prior to incapacitation.
Why is an MPOA so important?
In Texas, if a hospitalized patient does not have a valid MPOA, the state will choose the decision-maker by default. The state chooses the first available individual in the following hierarchy: legal spouse, reasonably available adult children, parents, and finally, nearest living relatives. If you do not have a legal MPOA you must give these guidelines careful consideration. You must realize that without an MPOA the state’s selection will stand regardless of the condition of your marriage or the age of your adult children.
When the MPOA takes effect, the agent is authorized to choose which treatments, doctors, facilities, or tests are best for the patient. If you should sustain a serious injury your agent could be faced with the decision of whether to remove you from life support. If you do not have an MPOA, think about who would represent you and ask yourself the following question:
Do I trust this person with my life?
Some may prefer the state’s selection. But if you wish to designate your own medical decision-maker you can acquire an MPOA with the help of an attorney. Texas law requires that the document be signed in the presence of a notary public or signed by two qualified witnesses.
If you would like to secure a medical power of attorney, we can help connect you with a Pro-Life attorney in your area. Email us at ProLife@TexasRightToLife.com or call (713) 782-5433.
Every health care decision is worthy of careful consideration. Thinking through these worst-case scenarios ahead of time can be the greatest blessing to your family and may literally save your life.
Check out this video to learn more about MPOA and please share with your friends and family.