A Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA) lets you grant someone you trust the power to make health-related decisions for you in the state of Texas. This person, who’s known as your agent, can only make medical decisions for you after your doctor decides you’re too sick to do so yourself.
In addition to your MPOA, consider creating these complementary documents to have peace of mind in case of an unforeseen event:
- Living Will: This document describes your preferences for end-of-life treatments. Medical powers of attorney and living will are both types of advance directives.
- Power of Attorney: This document gives an agent the power to make financial, business, and other non-medical decisions for you.
How to Fill in a Medical Power of Attorney in Texas
Follow these steps to ensure your form is legally binding and meets the requirements outlined in THSC § 166.151-166:
Step 1: Choose an agent
Your agent is a person you choose to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re too sick to communicate.
Who should you choose as an agent?
You should choose a mature adult (over 18 years of age) you trust, and who knows you well.
Your agent must make healthcare decisions according to their knowledge of your wishes, including religious and moral beliefs. If they don’t know your wishes, your agent must make choices in your best interests.
Relevant law: THSC § 166.151-152
Who can’t be your agent?
The following individuals may not act as your agent in Texas:
- Your health care provider or residential care provider
- An employee of your health care provider or residential care provider, unless the person is your relative
Relevant law: THSC § 166.153
Can you have more than one agent?
Yes, you can designate up to two alternate agents. If your first choice is unable to act on your behalf, your alternate agents gain authority to do so in the order listed on your form.
Step 2: Specify what healthcare decisions your agent can make
It’s important to carefully decide which powers to give to your agent.
Can you limit your agent’s powers?
Yes, you can limit your agent’s powers. To do so, simply write out instructions or restrictions in your Medical Power of Attorney form. For example, “I don’t want any of my organs or tissues donated after my death”
If you don’t express any limitations to your agent’s decision-making power, your agent can make almost any healthcare decision on your behalf.
What is your agent legally unable to do?
Your agent is legally unable to consent to:
- Voluntary inpatient mental health services
- Convulsive treatment
- Neglect through withholding comfort care
Relevant law: THSC § 166.152-f
When can your agent start making decisions for you?
Your agent can make decisions for you only after your primary doctor declares you incompetent in writing, and then files the certification in your medical record.
Step 3: Sign the form
To make your Texas Medical Power of Attorney legally binding, you must sign the document.
If you’re physically unable to sign the document, you can direct another person to sign the document for you in your presence. The signer may use either a digital or electronic signature.
Relevant law: THSC §166.011
Do you need notary or witness signatures?
Yes, for your Medical Power of Attorney to be valid, you must date it and either:
- have your signature acknowledged before a notary public, or
- sign it in the presence of two competent adult witness
Relevant law: THSC § 166.154
Who can be a witness?
At least one of your two witnesses can’t be:
- Your agent
- Someone related to you by blood or marriage
- A person entitled to any part of your estate after your death
- Your physician
- Your physician’s employee
- An employee of the health facility in which you’re a patient
Relevant law: THSC § 166.003
How long is your Medical Power of Attorney effective in Texas?
Your Medical Power of Attorney is effective indefinitely once it’s signed and delivered to your agent(s).
If you haven’t included an expiration date, your agent’s authority will remain in effect until:
- you revoke your MPOA, or
- you regain competence and can resume making your own health care decisions
How to Revoke a Texas Medical Power of Attorney
At any point, you can revoke your Medical Power of Attorney by destroying or defacing the physical document and taking one of the following actions:
- Creating a written Revocation of Power of Attorney form and notifying your physician
- Telling your physician that you want to revoke your MPOA
Once you’ve notified your physician of your intent to revoke through one of these two actions, they will void their copy of your document.
If you’re physically unable to take the actions necessary to revoke your document, you may instruct someone else to do so in your presence.
Relevant law: THSC § 166.042