Do I Need to Have My Texas Living Will Witnessed or Notarized?

In Texas, you must have your living will and medical power of attorney signed by witnesses or notarized, depending on the powers you grant.

In Texas, you may describe your wishes for health care in a living will and medical power of attorney. In your living will (officially called a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates), you may describe and document the kind of health care you would like to receive if you can no longer speak for yourself. In your Medical Power of Attorney, you may name a trusted person (called your health care agent) to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are no longer able to do so.

When to Have Your Texas Health Care Directives Witnessed or Notarized

In Texas, each type of health care directive has its own signing requirements.

Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates. Your living will must be signed by two witnesses. Your witnesses must be at least 18 years old. In addition, at least one of your witnesses may not be:

  • your health care agent
  • related to you by blood or marriage
  • your attending physician
  • an employee of your attending physician
  • an employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct care to you or is an officer, director, partner or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility, or
  • a person who is entitled to or has a claim against any part of your estate after your death.

Medical Power of Attorney. If you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Your witnesses must be at least 18 years old. In addition, at least one of your witnesses may not be:

  • your health care agent
  • related to you by blood or marriage
  • your attending physician
  • an employee of your attending physician
  • an employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct care to you or is an officer, director, partner or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility, or
  • a person who is entitled to or has a claim against any part of your estate after your death.

If you do not grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses (subject to the requirements, above) or notarized.

What to Do With Your Signed Health Care Documents

After you sign your documents and have them witnessed or notarized, they are legally valid. Keep the originals in your files and give copies to your health care agent, if you named one. To ensure that you get the health care that you want, it’s a good idea to make your wishes widely known. You might also consider giving copies of your documents to your physician, your hospital, your HMO or other insurance plan, and trusted family members and friends.

Review your documents every few years to make sure that they still reflect your wishes. Also, consider making new documents if you move to another state, get married or divorced, or if your health care agent is no longer able to supervise your wishes.

Your properly finalized documents will stay in effect until you revoke them, if you ever choose to do so. You can revoke your documents at any time. The best way to revoke is to do it in writing. If possible, also collect and tear up all copies that you may have distributed to others. Finally, tell everyone who knows about your health care documents that you have revoked them.

More Information

Learn more about Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

Learn more about Texas Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

When you make a health care directive with Quicken WillMaker Plus, it will conform to Texas law. It will also print with plain English instructions that tell you how to make your documents legal. 

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