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Living Wills

Texas law allows any mentally competent adult, by signing a legal document known as a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, to provide advance instructions to his or her physician to withhold or withdraw artificial life-sustaining medical procedures in the event that the patient is diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible medical condition that is incurable, as well as their wishes on pain management and organ donation. This type of legal document is commonly referred to as a “living will”.

By outlining these detailed directions in the living will, the patient can inform healthcare providers of their wishes concerning the use or non-use of life-sustaining medical interventions in situations involving a terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. This provides a way for competent adults in Texas to control decisions about their medical care at the end of life.

Purpose of Living Wills

The main purpose of a living will in Texas is to give clear instructions and directions to healthcare providers regarding the use of artificial life-sustaining procedures if the patient is in one of two conditions:

  • The patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that is expected to result in death within six months, even with artificial life-sustaining procedures.
  • The patient has an incurable condition that prevents them from making medical decisions for themselves and is fatal without life-sustaining treatment.

Requirements for a Valid Living Will

Texas law lays out specific requirements that must be met to create a legally valid living will document:

  • The living will must be in writing and signed by the patient or declarant.
  • The patient’s signature must be witnessed in person by two competent adult witnesses.
  • The witnesses cannot be the same person who is designated to make medical decisions for the patient, related to the patient by blood or marriage, the patient’s heirs, the attending physician or an employee of the physician, a person who would have a claim against the patient’s estate upon death, or an employee of the patient’s health care facility who is providing direct care or involved in financial affairs.
  • Instead of two witnesses, a notary public can witness the patient’s signature.

Designating a Health Care Agent

Like a guardianship, the living will can also include designating another person to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient if the patient becomes comatose, incompetent, or otherwise mentally or physically incapable of communication. This appointed health care agent should be someone who thoroughly understands the patient’s wishes and preferences for end-of-life care.

Consulting an Attorney

Those considering creating a living will are highly encouraged to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure the document is prepared properly according to Texas law and accurately represents the patient’s preferences. It is also advisable to provide a copy of the living will to the patient’s physicians to ensure the directives are understood and followed.

The Takeaway

Living wills empower people to make their preferences clear on avoiding unwanted life-sustaining treatments at the end of life. By following the legal requirements, these advance directives can be made fully valid and effective. With proper preparation, you can have peace of mind knowing your end-of-life care wishes will be honored.

Why Choose Us?

Local Expertise: With a focus on probate and assisting clients in Houston, we understand local peculiarities and leverage our established network to expedite the probate process.

Vast Experience: Our attorneys bring years of dedicated experience in navigating Harris County’s probate system.

Client-Centered Approach: We recognize the emotional stress often associated with probate administration. Our objective is to alleviate this stress by providing you with top-notch legal support.

Contact us today to arrange a FREE consultation and make the probate process simpler for you.

Our Houston Probate Attorneys provide a full range of probate services to our clients, including helping with living wills. Affordable rates, fixed fees, and payment plans are available. We provide step-by-step instructions, guidance, checklists, and more for completing the probate process. We have years of combined experience we can use to support and guide you with probate and estate matters.


Disclaimer:  The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney.


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