Livens & Reed, PLLC

Long-term care planning should include durable power of attorney

Making decisions for oneself is important for one's own sense of personal autonomy, but unfortunately it is not always possible. This is why long-term care plans should always include durable powers of attorney. Although some people in Texas might feel hesitant about giving giving others the right to make medical decisions, failing to do so could lead to undesirable outcomes.

A durable power of attorney names one designated person for communicating medical wishes and making decisions on another's behalf. This does not mean that the designated person can make those decisions whenever he or she wishes. The power of attorney only applies when the individual who created it is incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate his or her medical preferences.

In Texas, the designated person can consent to treatment, services, maintenance procedures and more in regard to both physical and mental health. However, he or she does not have unlimited decision-making power in all aspects of medical treatment. For example, that person cannot agree to things like psychosurgery, convulsive treatments or in-patient services for mental health. He or she also cannot withhold care that is primarily intended to provide comfort for the patient.

Durable powers of attorney are not permanent, which should give confidence to those who are still uncertain about the process. However, since powers of attorney usually function alongside living wills, it is important to make sure that both documents reflect accurate information. An experienced attorney may be able to provide valuable guidance on reviewing and updating long-term care plans as needed.

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