What Does a Medical POA Do?
A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to choose someone who will make medical decisions when you are unable to do so. The person creating the Power of Attorney is known as the “principal,” and the person given the ability to make the medical decisions is known as the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” A Medical Power of Attorney usually goes into effect when a doctor certifies that the principal is no longer competent to make medical decisions. Tex. Health & Safety Code §166.152(b). In making decisions for the principal, the agent must not only consider health care wishes, but also must consider the principal’s religious and moral beliefs. Texas Health & Safety Code § 166.152(b).
A Medical Power of Attorney form and disclosure statement are available at Tex. Health & Safety Code §§166.163,.164. While it is part of the Advanced Directives Act, designating a medical power of attorney is separate from the directive-to-physician statute. Tex. Health & Safety Code §166.151 et seq.
What Are Its Limitations?
The agent cannot make medical decisions for the principal unless a physician certifies that the principal can no longer make those decisions. Other statutory limitations exist as well, preventing the agent from making decisions about psychosurgery, abortion, convulsive treatment, or voluntary inpatient mental health service. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 166.152(f).
Drafting or interpreting a Medical Power of Attorney in Texas requires the skill and competence of a qualified estate planning or probate lawyer. It is important to seek legal counsel should you need to prepare a Medical POA or enforce certain rights related to a Medical Power of Attorney.
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