What is a Medical Power of Attorney?
What is a Medical Power of Attorney? A medical power of attorney allows the person granting authority (the principal) to designate a person (the agent) to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal in the event of incapacitation. Once you have chosen a trusted friend or family member to be your agent, that person is given broad authority through the medical power of attorney to make health care decisions on your behalf. That authority could be restricted in the medical power of attorney, granting very specific authority to make health care decisions. Many people believe medical powers of attorney are only for the elderly; however, it is important to understand that an unexpected injury or illness can occur at any age.
In the state of Texas, a medical power of attorney must be signed by the agent, in the presence of two witnesses, who will also sign the document. If you choose not to have two witnesses sign, you can sign your medical power of attorney in front of your attorney, with your signature acknowledged in front of a Notary Public. Before you sign a medical power of attorney, you will be required to sign a statement that acknowledges you have read and understood a disclosure statement.
If you choose to have witnesses acknowledge your medical power of attorney, at least one of those witnesses cannot be the person you chose to make health care treatment decisions for you. At least one of the witnesses must not be related to you (by blood or marriage), must not be a beneficiary of your estate, must have no claim on your estate, must not be your attending physician or employed by your physician, and must not be an employee of the health care facility in which you reside.
A medical power of attorney becomes effective as soon as it is executed and delivered to you, and, absent a specific termination date, it is effective indefinitely, unless and until it is revoked, or you become competent. If your medical power of attorney does have a termination date, but you are incapacitated on that date, the document remains in effect until you are competent. A medical power of attorney authorizes the person you choose as your agent to act on your behalf as soon as your physician judges you incompetent. You can revoke your medical power of attorney by notifying your agent or health care provider in writing, or orally. If your spouse is your agent and you divorce, his or her power of attorney is revoked.