Insurance and Finance

How to Create a Living Will in Texas

By Peter Simek 5.26.20

There are some things in life that you never want to think about, and needing emergency medical care is one of them. But preparing for such an event can give you the peace of mind that if such an event were to occur, you would be looked after the way you want to be.

Creating a living will is a way to preemptively give yourself some control over an otherwise uncontrollable situation. It ensures that you and your loved ones know how to respond to any situation that may leave you in need of emergency medical care. The good news is that a Texas living will is easy to draw up and simple to maintain. Here’s an overview of what you can expect when creating yours.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document that spells out predetermined instructions on how you would like to handle any variety of situations if a medical emergency leaves you incapable of making your medical wishes known. Your living will instructs doctors as to how to handle your emergency medical care in the event that you are unable to speak or respond to questions. In addition, a complete advanced directive appoints an agent who will act on your behalf to address difficult questions that often arise during medical emergencies.

What Situations Do Living Wills Address?

The situations living wills address require some of the most difficult decisions you and your family may make in a lifetime. Your living will allows you the time and opportunity to thoughtfully consider how you would like your medical care to be handled. These situations may include:

  • How to handle life-sustaining treatments if you are suffering from a terminal condition for more than six months.
  • How to address resuscitation, including the need for CPR and defibrillator treatments.
  • How to administer mechanical ventilation and for how long.
  • How long to continue tube-feeding in the event that you cannot eat.
  • How to address the use of any medications, pain-relief regimens, comfort care, and hospice decisions.
  • Organ and tissue donations.
  • Donating your body to science.

How Do You Make a Living Will?

In Texas, drafting a living will is easier than in some other states. You will need to fill out two forms. The first is a Texas living will form, which walks you through a series of medical situations and how you would like to have them handled should they apply to you. You can also specify any further medical needs and situations. When filling out the form, it is important that you discuss your values and your wishes with your family and your health care provider. Your doctor may guide you as you fill out the form and help point out any potential situations you may need to address that relate to your particular health needs.

The second form you will need to complete designates a health care proxy, which gives an individual power of attorney over decisions regarding your care. In addition to naming an agent, the form allows you to place limitations on the decisions that person can make on your behalf and name alternative agents if desired. Both documents must be signed by two witnesses, and there are some restrictions as to who these witnesses can be. For example, one of the witnesses cannot be related to you or be entitled to any portion of your estate.

How Often Should You Update Your Living Will?

Life changes, laws change, and medical conditions evolve. That’s why legal experts recommend that a living will is updated every two to three years. This will ensure that you can review your decisions based on any changing medical situations you may foresee or any changes to your personal or family situation that may change the way you plan for your emergency medical care.

Creating a living will is relatively simple, but in the event of the unthinkable, it is a vital component of any emergency-preparedness plan. It addresses situations none of us like to think about, but don’t let that reluctance cause you to delay. A living will, like a solid insurance policy, will afford you invaluable peace of mind.

For peace of mind that you are prepared for life’s unexpected challenges and changes, make sure you are reviewing your insurance needs annually with your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent. A 360 Review of your coverage will help ensure your financial protection.

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