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Do I Need a Living Will in My Texas Estate Plan?

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shutterstock_97178681.jpgDuring the estate planning process, you will make a variety of decisions about how matters will be handled after your death. In addition to addressing ownership of your property or other related issues, it is also important to consider how you will be able to meet your needs throughout the rest of your life. Along with decisions related to your finances, you will also want to make sure your medical and personal care will be provided for. It can be especially important to address situations where you may become terminally ill, and if you cannot make your wishes known, you will want to ensure that you receive the proper care and end-of-life medical treatment. You can address these situations by creating a living will, which is one of the most important ancillary documents that may be included in your estate plan.

Requirements for Living Wills in Texas

A living will covers situations where you will be unable to make decisions about your medical care because of an illness or injury. The Texas Health and Safety Code details a standard form that may be used for a “Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates,” although you may also create a document that is customized to your unique needs. Your living will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses before it will become valid, and its terms will only go into effect if you become incapacitated in the future and cannot make your wishes known.

A living will may address:

  • Terminal illnesses - If you are diagnosed with a terminal condition, meaning that a doctor determines that you are expected to die within six months even if you receive life-sustaining treatment, you may specify that you wish to have all forms of treatment withheld other than those that will ease your pain and comfort. Alternatively, you may choose to receive treatment that will keep you alive as long as possible.

  • Irreversible conditions - If you are diagnosed with a condition that will result in your death if you do not receive life-sustaining treatment, and you are unable to care for yourself or make decisions about your medical care, you may specify what types of treatment you do or do not want to receive. You may choose to forego life-sustaining treatment and be kept as comfortable as possible, or you may state that you want to receive treatment that will delay your death.

  • Hospice care - A living will usually includes terms stating that if you or your representative decide to place you in hospice care, you will not receive life-sustaining treatments, and your treatment will be limited to what is necessary to keep you comfortable.

  • Authorization to make medical decisions - If you have not already created a medical power of attorney, your living will may designate a person who will be able to make decisions about your medical care and treatment.

  • Imminent death - A living will typically states that if a doctor determines that you will die within a matter of minutes or hours even if all necessary treatment is provided, any treatments other than what is necessary to maintain your comfort will be withheld.

  • Other types of decisions - Your living will can address any decisions related to your end-of-life care, including specific treatments that you do or do not want to receive and the situations where these decisions will apply.

Contact a Tarrant County Living Will Attorney

At Gonzalez Law, PLLC, we will make sure you understand your options when creating an estate plan, and we will advise you on the types of documents that you can include and the decisions that you may make. We can help you create a living will that will fully detail your wishes in situations where you will be unable to make decisions for yourself, ensuring that you and your family will be fully prepared for the future. Contact our Fort Worth estate planning lawyer today at 817-349-7730 to set up a complimentary consultation and learn how we can help you put the proper plans in place.

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.166.htm

https://assets.recenter.tamu.edu/Documents/Articles/2044.pdf


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