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Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, more commonly known as a "Directive to Physicians" or "Living Will," or "Advance Directive," indicates your desires regarding the use of life support measures in the event of a terminal illness.
In addition, the Directive to Physicians may designate someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to act and do not have a Medical Power of Attorney, although use of a Medical Power of Attorney is preferable for several reasons. First, and most importantly, a Directive applies only if you are terminally ill, while a Medical Power of Attorney gives the right to make decisions whenever you are incapacitated. Second, a Medical Power of Attorney is the only way to require your medical treatment provider to act in accord with the directions of someone you trust. Finally, the authority granted under a Medical Power of Attorney takes priority over the Directive to Physicians.
Thus you may wish to prepare and execute both a Directive to Physicians and Medical Power of Attorney.
Section 166.031 and following sections of the Texas Health Code provides the authority for you to make a Directive, which may include instructions to administer, withhold, or withdraw life-sustaining treatment in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition. The form provided is the Statutory Form provided under Section 166.033 of the Texas Health Code, instructing that all treatments other than those needed to keep you comfortable be discontinued or withheld and that you be allowed to die as gently as possible in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition.
This system does not provide a form instructing that all available life-sustaining treatment be provided in all events, although that is a permissible instruction under the Code.
A spouse does not automatically have the power to act for the other spouse, thus a Directive to Physicians is necessary to express your wishes even when married. Similarly, a parent does not have the power to act for an adult child, thus a Directive to Physicians is necessary, although the parent is the "natural guardian" of a minor child, subject to court appointment of a legal guardian of the person.
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