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Advance directives -- a way to make your wishes known

There is no telling what the future holds. So, when estate planning, one must plan for every conceivable situation. This may seem to be an impossible task. While it can take time, it is something you can work through with the assistance of an estate planning attorney.

Failing to prepare for the future can cause a lot of issues for you and your loved ones. For example, in the event you become incapacitated, who do you want to be responsible for making all of your medical decisions? Are there specific treatments you would want or want to avoid? It is possible for Texas residents to name personal representatives and give clear instructions for care in legal documents known as advance directives.

What is an advance directive?

Simply put, an advance directive is a legal form in which you are able to express your wishes regarding medical care should something happen making you incapable of sharing those wishes on your own. This is particularly useful to have in the event of an emergency.

Types of advance directives

There are several types of advance directives. All of them serve different purposes. These include:

  • Living wills
  • Health care power of attorney
  • Declaration for the treatment of mental health
  • Do not resuscitate form
  • Directive to physicians and family

An experienced attorney can provide detailed information about the various forms of advance directives in order to help you be sure you prepare only those that you really need.

Can't I just tell my loved ones what medical care I want?

You can, but without advance directives in place, there are no guarantees of the honoring of your wishes.

Validity, utilization and making copies

In order to be valid, an advance directive must be in writing and its signing must be in the presence of a minimum of two witnesses. The signature of a notary may also be required. Before the utilization of an advance directive, a medical provider will have to determine if you are incapable of making medical decisions for yourself. There are specific state requirements that determine if a person incapacitated.

Finally, advance directives only serve their purpose if family members and medical providers know that they exist. Family members, friends, medical providers or any other person you deem appropriate can receive copies of any advance directives that you choose.

Having advance directives in place may not seem like a necessary thing, but if something happens leaving you incapacitated, having your wishes for medical treatments clearly expressed in writing can take pressure off of your loved ones and help prevent conflicts. Those in Texas who have questions about advance directives and other estate planning matters can seek assistance from an experienced attorney. With the help of legal counsel, the estate planning process can be completed swiftly and smoothly and all necessary and desired protections can be put in place.

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