Our medical advancements nowadays allow us to sustain life far beyond what was possible a century ago. While these medical marvels are wonderful for saving lives, they also extend the dying process from days to years. This often involves patients who will not recover, kept alive by grieving loved ones, and medical laws that favor prolonging life at all costs, even when recovery is impossible. 

The solution? The Living Will or Advance Directive.

In this blog, our experienced estate planning attorney, Jack Robinson, explains the specifics of a living will and why Texans should have it. Our team at the Law Office of Jack Robinson will answer your queries and help you understand better how this legal document is a critical safeguard for you and your loved ones during difficult times.

What Is A Living Will and How Does It Work in Texas?

Living wills are legally recognized in Texas, though they differ from other estate planning tools such as living trusts and medical powers of attorney.

A living will is a formal document that states your wishes regarding specific health care decisions to be made if you are unable to express them yourself. It allows you some control over the medical decisions that must be made when you cannot respond. To maximize its function, it is best recommended to consult with an experienced lawyer for this matter.

Legal Requirements for Living Wills in Texas

  • Signing: As per Section 166.031 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a living will must be signed in the presence of either two witnesses or a notary public to be considered legally valid.
  • Scope: Defined by Section 166.002, a living will include provisions for ‘life-sustaining treatment,’ such as:
    • Artificial nutrition and hydration
    • Mechanical ventilation
    • Other essential life-preserving measures

To set up your living will, contact our team at the Law Office of Jack Robinson—we’ll help you with the process every step of the way.

What Is the Importance of A Living Will?

In 2004, the Terry Schiavo case underscored the need for a living will. At 25, a medical crisis left Schiavo on life support for over a decade. Without a clear medical directive about her healthcare wishes, a dispute between her husband and parents escalated, involving courts and Congress and costing millions before her feeding tube was removed. She passed away shortly thereafter

This case highlights why it’s crucial to document your healthcare preferences to avoid conflicts and to ensure clarity and protection. If Terry Schiavo had a living will that clearly stated her desire for all life-saving and life-sustaining measures to be used to prolong her life, her situation might have been very different. 

But who considers these matters at 25? As you age and your life changes, your wishes might change dramatically

Why You Should Set Up Your Living Will in Texas

You might want to have a living will in Texas for multiple reasons, but the most significant one would probably be the peace of mind it offers. Knowing that your medical and end-of-life decisions are documented can relieve a great deal of stress and uncertainty, both for you and your loved ones. 

With that thought, below are key questions to consider in your living will while in consultation with your trusted attorney: 

  • Medical Intervention: In a scenario where recovery is unlikely, do you want extensive life-sustaining measures like artificial feeding and mechanical ventilation?
  • Financial Implications: Are the financial costs associated with prolonged medical care something you want your family to bear?
  • Cardiac Events: If your heart stops in a state of severe medical decline, should efforts be made to revive you?
  • Periodic Review: How often should you review and potentially revise your living will to reflect current wishes and circumstances?

These are crucial issues that should be addressed in your living will so your loved ones don’t have to guess or, worse, engage in legal battles to honor your verbal wishes. No one else can make these decisions for you; everyone’s needs and perspectives differ. 

The Process of Creating a Living Will in Texas

Creating a living will is an essential step in managing your future healthcare decisions. Here’s a straightforward overview of the process:

  • Document Preparation: Begin by writing down all your healthcare directives.
  • Signing and Notarization: Once complete, date and sign the document in the presence of a notary to make it legally binding.
  • Storage of Documents: Keep copies of your living will and any power of attorney forms on file at your doctor’s offices for easy reference.
  • Safekeeping Originals: The designated decision-maker should store the signed originals in a safe deposit box. This ensures they are secure and accessible, allowing copies to be made when necessary.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your healthcare preferences are respected and that someone you trust is empowered to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.

Contact Us at the Law Office of Jack Robinson Today!

Working with an estate planning attorney who understands the nuances of living wills, such as Jack Robinson, can greatly enhance the management and execution of your healthcare directives. With professional legal assistance, you can confidently establish a living will that reflects your wishes and provides peace of mind for the future.

Book a free consultation with us today!