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What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2022 | Estate Planning

As readers of this blog know, there are several estate planning documents that are important. These include Wills, Trusts, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Guardianships, etc. Though, this post will focus on MPOAs, which can be extremely important, should one become incapacitated and unable to make their own medical decisions. After all, no one wants a stranger making their medical decisions.

MPOA?

In Texas, a Medical Power of Attorney, MPOA or advanced directive is a function of state regulation. Specifically, Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 166, which also includes a draft MPOA. The MPOA is a legal document that is signed by a Texas principal that must be over the age of 18 and competent. It designates an agent, who is another competent adult, that the principal empowers to make their health care decisions, should the principal ever lose the ability to make such decisions. The MPOA sets out the principal’s healthcare wishes, which the agent must follow. Though, there is some leeway to not follow the principal’s wishes, if it is in the best interests of the principal.

Other definitions

The form MPOA references physicians. These physicians can either be licensed by the Texas Medical Board, or be a credentialed physician with the military that is on active duty in the state. The term providers also has two definitions. First, they refer to health care providers, which includes anyone authorized to administer health care services, like physicians, licensed facilities, etc. The second is residential care providers. These are licensed facilities or individuals that operate residential care homes.

Timing

Upon execution, the MPOA is effective immediately upon agent delivery. Unless there is a specified termination date, the MPOA is indefinite, but it can be revoked at any time before the principal loses competency. Though, if the expiration date occurs when the principal has lost competency, the MPOA remains effective until the principal is no longer incompetent. The MPOA begins when the principal’s attending physician certifies to the principal’s incompetency. This must be done in writing, and the physician must file certification of such in the principal’s medical record.

Of course, for our Plano, Texas, and Collin County, readers, this is not a deep dive into MPOAs. This is simply an overview of how Texas treats MPOAs and their importance.