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Advanced Healthcare Directives in Texas: Planning for the Worst

What are Texas Advanced Healthcare Directives (AHDs)? Advanced Healthcare Directives in Texas offer you the option to create legally binding documents that spell out how your affairs, whether it be medical, financial, or anything else, are handled if you become incapacitated. AHDs are like car, medical, or life insurance: they prepare for events that can be uneasy to face. These documents can be an overlooked step in successful estate planning in Texas.

AHDs offer "insurance" in the sense that by completing these documents, you are ensuring your obligations will be taken care of, and wishes followed, according to your beliefs by the people you trust to do so in the case of incapacitation. AHDs include: HIPAA Authorization, Medical Power of Attorney, Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, and a Physician's Directive (sometimes referred to as a living will.)

So, what "insurance" does each of these documents provide in Texas?

HIPAA Authorization -- HIPAA is a federal act that has legal guidelines for privacy in the practice of medicine, one of which is keeping your medical information private. An HIPAA Authorization allow you to choose whomever you like to be able to access your medical condition from your doctor, ensuring that your doctor can release your medical condition to your loved ones who might not otherwise have any legal recourse to have such information. A copy of your HIPAA Authorization should be kept with your primary care physician.

Medical Power of Attorney -- By creating a Medical Power of Attorney, you allow the person of your choice to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. This could include decisions to take, or not take, certain medicine. For example, if there is a drug necessary after a heart attack that requires consent, the person with Medical Power of Attorney could authorize the use of said medicine, ensuring that someone you trust can make medical decisions according to your wishes.

Statutory Durable Power of Attorney -- Sometimes referred to as a financial power of attorney, or simply as a durable power of attorney, this document gives the person of your choice the power to access any asset or financial holding you choose to continue any financial obligations you have without delay, ensuring that your financial obligations will not go into delinquency. This power of attorney can be very broad and sweeping so it is extremely important to be precise in what powers you are giving to the person you choose.

Physician's Directive -- Also referred to as a living will, a physician's directive documents your choices for end-of-life care. This is important as many people have religious or personal beliefs that may contradict a hospital's point of view, and a physician's directive can ensure your beliefs are followed.

All of these documents can be worded so as to only become effective once a person is incapacitated. You should carefully consider whom you want to give access to your medical records and whom you give a power of attorney to. If you wish to learn more about the Texas Advanced Healthcare Directives, contact your Texas attorney today.

Charlton M. Messer, Esq.

This article and its contents are for educational purposes only and not legal advice. Please contact your attorney today for legal advice regarding the contents of this article


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