Texas residents without a living will may not be aware of the importance of having a plan in place, or they may feel like this type of plan can wait for when they are old or sick. At any time, an individual may end up in a situation where he or she is incapacitated and unable to make health care decisions. Therefore, having a living will can be helpful to the individual as well as his or her loved ones.
A living will gives a designated person -- known as a proxy, surrogate or agent -- the right to make health care decisions when an individual is unable to do so for him or herself. This document can address whether or not the individual wants life-sustaining measures should the need arise and also whether or not organs will be donated. While a living will cannot anticipate every possible situation, it may be beneficial to make it as specific as possible.
Determining who should act as a health care proxy is not as easy as it may seem. It must be someone who agrees to carry out and fight for the individual's wishes. While a spouse or a trusted relative may seem like an obvious choice, it may be difficult for that person to accept the responsibility of stopping life support. This is why it is important to discuss these issues with the designated proxy before putting anything in writing. Once that is done, a durable power of attorney can be drafted and distributed to the proxy, health care provider and loved ones.
A living will not only ensures that an individual's wishes are carried out, but it can give family members the peace of mind that comes with not having to guess what their loved one would want. Texas residents who do not already have a living will in place may want to start the process. Those who already have one may wish to review it to make sure that all the information is still applicable.
Source: CNN, Dying: What no one wants to talk about, Jacque Wilson, Jan. 12, 2014