Saturday, March 29, 2008

What is a “Living Will?”

Many people are concerned about the best method to protect themselves, and their loved ones, in the event of future injury, illness, or incapacity. Everyone has known or heard of a family that was torn apart by disagreements about how best to care for loved ones who were no longer able to make medical decisions for themselves.

The Texas Legislature has created a variety of statutory methods for handling such matters. For example, Texas recognizes the “living will,” which is more formally known as a “Directive to Physicians,” that allows a person to describe their own wishes concerning medical intervention and care in a legally binding document. Under a living will, you describe, in advance, the types of life-saving treatment that should be provided to you, as well as the circumstances under which medical professionals should stop using life-saving measures and simply provide treatment that will allow you to remain as comfortable as possible. By expressing your desires in advance, in the statutory form, you can provide your medical providers and family with clear guidelines and avoid potential conflict.