What is an Advance Directive?
A: An Advance Directive, also called a Living Will, is a written legal document which allows you to instruct your attending physician whether or not you wish to be given life-sustaining treatments and artificially administered nutrition (food) and hydration (water) and to give other medical directions that impact the end of life. Its purpose is to recognize your right to control some aspects of your medical care and treatment primarily including the right to decline medical treatment or direct that it be withdrawn even if death ensues. An Advance Directive may include the appointment of a representative to act on your behalf and directions for organ donation.
Who can sign an Advance Directive for Health Care?
A: Any person of sound mind who is 18 or older.
Does the signing of an Advance Directive require witnesses and a notary public?
A: An Advance Directive must be signed before two witnesses who are 18 or older. At least one of the witnesses cannot be beneficiaries under your will nor may they be persons who would inherit your property if you died without a will. An Advance Directive is not required to be notarized.
Does my physician have to comply with my wishes?
A: If you have completed an Advance Directive and been diagnosed as terminally or irreversibly ill by your attending physician and that physician does not want to comply with your wishes, that physician must act promptly to arrange for your care by another physician or healthcare provider.
Can I revoke my Advance Directive?
A: After you complete an Advance Directive, you may revoke it in whole or in part at any time and in any manner, without regard to your mental or physical condition. A revocation is effective upon your communication to your attending physician or other care provider or a witness to the revocation.
Other Important Information Concerning Advance Directives
Be sure and make copies of your Advance Directive for your personal records, your family, your physician, your attorney, your Health Care Proxy and alternate Health Care Proxy. If your physician is unwilling to comply with the Advance Directive, the physician must tell you.
Texas's Advance Directive Act allows you, if you are 18 years of age or older, to inform physicians and others of your wishes to provide, decline or withdraw life-sustaining medical care and to donate specified organs when you have been diagnosed by your attending physician to be in a terminal or irreversible condition. The Advance Directive also allows you to appoint a representative of your choice to make certain decisions on your behalf.
Click here for more information and an Advance Directive example form.