Texas Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney: What You Need to Know

Creating a Texas medical power of attorney and directive (living will) is an important estate planning step.

By , Attorney

Why do you need a living will and medical power of attorney in Texas?

If you become unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age, the right legal documents are your lifeline. When you don't write down your wishes about the kinds of medical treatment you want or don't name someone you trust to oversee your care, these important matters can be placed in the hands of estranged family members, doctors, or sometimes even judges, who may know very little about what you would prefer.

What are health care forms called in Texas?

There are two basic kinds of health care documents that everyone should make. First, you'll need a document naming a trusted person to direct your health care if you are unable to do so yourself. In Texas, the official name for this form is a medical power of attorney.

Second, you should make a document setting out the types of medical treatment you would or would not like to receive in certain situations. This document is usually known as a living will. In Texas, this form is often called a directive to physicians and families or surrogates.

Who makes health care decisions for me in Texas?

In Texas, the person you name to make decisions for you is called your agent. Most people name a spouse, partner, relative, or close friend as their agent. Under Texas law, your agent may not be:

  • your health care provider
  • an employee of your health care provider, unless the employee is related to you
  • your residential care provider, or
  • an employee of your residential care provider, unless the employee is related to you.

(Tex. Health & Safety Code §166.153 (2024).)

What else do I need to know about choosing an agent in Texas?

When choosing your agent, the most crucial criteria are trustworthiness and dependability. You might also want to choose someone you think will be good at asserting your health care wishes if others argue against them—that is, someone who is persistent or calm under pressure.

While you need not name someone who lives in Texas, the person you name should at least be willing and able to travel to your bedside if necessary.

Your agent will begin to make health care decisions for you when you lack the capacity to do so. For more information, see Nolo's article Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for Health Care: How They Work.

Do I need a lawyer to make health care documents in Texas?

You usually don't need a lawyer to prepare documents directing your health care. In fact, state governments have designed these forms for people to complete on their own by filling in the blanks. You can find the health care forms you need for Texas in Nolo's Quicken WillMaker. The software includes detailed instructions for completing your documents and meets all Texas legal requirements.

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