Living Wills

Texas law allows any competent adult, by signing a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (or “living will,” as it often is called), to instruct his or her physician to withhold or withdraw artificial life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition.

The directive takes effect only after the patient’s physician determines that the patient is terminally ill and that death is expected within six months without application of artificial life sustaining procedures or the patient has a condition that may be treated, but never cured and that leaves the patient unable to care for or make decisions for himself or herself and that without life-sustaining treatment, is fatal.

The form and contents of the directive are prescribed by Texas law. The directive should be in writing, signed by the patient, and witnessed by two competent adults. One of the witnesses cannot be the person designated to make a treatment decision 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 his or her death, or
an employee of the patient’s health care facility who is providing direct care to the patient or who is involved in the financial affairs of the facility. In lieu of signing in the presence of witnesses, the patient may sign the directive and have the signature acknowledged before a notary public.

The directive may include a designation of another person to make a treatment decision for the patient if the patient is comatose, incompetent, or otherwise mentally or physically incapable of communication.

If you desire that your life not be artificially prolonged in the event of a terminal illness, you should consult with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys to have a directive prepared for you. It may also be desirable to inform your physician of your wishes and to provide him or her with a copy of the directive.