Powers of Attorney and Medical Directives

The truth is we all hope to remain as independent and self-sufficient as possible during our lifetimes. Today, people are living well into their golden years and modern medical science is giving us all ever-increasing chances of surviving even the most devastating illnesses and accidents. That's why advanced planning is more important now than ever. Without the proper legal instruments, if you become incapacitated, a court may determine that you need a guardian and appoint someone you may not have chosen yourself. Plus, the associated costs, bond premiums and on-going fees would be paid from your assets at the court's discretion. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid that difficult and expensive process and plan for the management of your property should you become unable to do so for yourself.


Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney

Texas law allows one person (the principal) to give another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the right to make financial decisions for the principal. The agent is normally the principal's spouse, child or other trusted relative or friend, and has very broad powers to deal with the principal's property and bind the principal. The powers granted to the agent do not terminate when the principal becomes incapacitated; however, the principal must have capacity at the time the durable power of attorney is executed. 


Medical Power of Attorney and Advance Directive

You should also have a medical power of attorney and a directive to physicians, family or surrogates regarding the prolongation of life by artificial means, which is also known as a "living will". You may also want to consider planning anatomical gifts and addressing specific burial instructions if you have strong feelings in these areas. These matters should be addressed independently of your will, since your family will need to carry out these wishes before the time they would normally read your will.