Advance Health Care Directives in San Antonio

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In the case of a medical emergency—especially one that leaves you incapacitated or facing the end of life—you might not be able to communicate your wishes to the doctor in charge of your care. Fortunately, advance health care directives exist as legal devices to ensure your desires are known before such an event occurs.

If you have concerns about how you will be treated when unable to communicate, you should discuss advance health care directives in San Antonio with an attorney. One of our seasoned estate planning lawyers at Begum Peláez-Prada LLC could advise you on your legal options.

What You Need to Know About Advance Health Care Directives

Different situations call for directives tailored to your wishes to remove any doubt about what you want to happen to you. If you do not have any kind of advance health care directive, then decisions can be made for you by the following people in order of priority:

  • A spouse
  • An adult child, if all children agree one a decision-maker, or a majority of the children if not
  • Parents
  • Someone clearly identified before becoming incapacitated
  • Nearest living relative or a clergy member
  • A probate court judge, if these people cannot agree on what to do

You might not mind having a family member make decisions about your treatment on your behalf, and maybe you have had discussions with your spouse, children, or parents about what you would want to happen. But if not, your family may not know what to do, which can make decision-making difficult during a stressful time.

But with an advance health care directive, you can eliminate any uncertainty and reassure your loved ones that what you want to happen is accurate. People in San Antonio can choose between the following types of advance health care directives:

Directive to Physicians

This is a “living will” that gives direction on whether doctors withdraw or withhold life-saving procedures when in a terminal condition.

Medical Power of Attorney

This is a designation given to a trusted person, your “agent,” to make medical decisions for you while you are incapacitated and only during that time.

Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate

This document instructs medical professionals outside of a hospital, usually EMTs or paramedics, to allow your natural death. This directive is the only one that works outside of a physician’s care, otherwise EMTs must stabilize you and get you to further care, if possible.

Durable Power of Attorney

This designation allows a trusted agent to make property and financial decisions, rather than medical decisions, while you are incapacitated.

If you want your wishes expressed as instructions to a medical professional, then a directive to physicians or a do-not-resuscitate order might make the most sense. But if you would rather have another person who you trust with your life and livelihood in charge of your affairs, then a power of attorney—whether medical or durable—could better suit your desires.

How to Create the Directive You Want

Advance health care directives do not require a lawyer to draft a document, but an experienced lawyer in the San Antonio area could ensure that your directive will have the desired legal effect. With a written, witnessed document, you can create an advance health care directive with the force of law.

Under the provisions of Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 166, a competent adult can create a directive—both to medical professionals or to designate an agent with power of attorney—with a document signed in the presence of two witnesses or a notary in the form required by statute. Your signature and those of witnesses or a notary can now be a digital or electronic signature as long as it verifies the signing person’s identity and complies with Chapter 166’s requirements.

You can also make a nonwritten directive without writing recognized by Chapter 166. In the presence of a physician and two witnesses, you can communicate your directive without the legal document provided by statute. Instead, the physician will enter your wishes into your medical records or hospital chart and record the names of the witnesses.

Again, neither of these methods require a lawyer’s drafting skills, but having a lawyer review your directive can ensure that it meets Chapter 166’s requirements to have legal effect. A well-practiced attorney could also make sure that the witnesses qualify under the law’s provisions and that any document is properly signed.

Talk About Your Health Care Wishes With a San Antonio Attorney

Making an advance health care directive is about managing risk and uncertainty long before a health emergency. By recording your wishes before incapacitation, you can think through what you want without imminent pressure.

If you want to learn more about making advance health care directives in San Antonio, reach out to our attorneys at Begum Peláez-Prada LLC. We can walk you through your options for describing your wishes and directions for any scenario requiring others to make decisions for you.