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Can Advance Medical Directives Cross State Lines? Understanding Portability and Legal Recognition

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What Are Advance Medical Directives?

Every adult should have advance medical directives, documents that tell your family and medical providers your wishes for medical care when you can’t express those wishes yourself.  A Waco advance medical directives attorney at Rainey & Rainey will help you prepare the advance directives you need.

Americans move and travel a great deal, but can our wishes and instructions regarding our medical care move with us? Will your advance medical directive prepared by a lawyer in Texas be honored in other states, and are directives prepared in other states recognized here in Texas?

If you will continue to read this short discussion about advance medical directives and Texas law, you’ll find the answers you may need. You will also learn how advance medical directives work and which legal documents are recognized by the law in Texas as advance medical directives.

Which Documents Are Advance Medical Directives in Texas?

According to the Texas Health & Human Services Commission, these are the documents that are legally considered advance medical directives in the State of Texas:

  1. Medical Power of Attorney: This gives someone you designate as your agent the power to make medical choices for you if you cannot make those decisions yourself. It may give your agent extensive power to make medical decisions or it may limit that authority.
  2. Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates: This is a “living will.” It’s a document that expresses your wishes regarding future medical treatment and end-of-life care if you can’t express those wishes yourself because you’re incapacitated, comatose, or disabled.
  3. Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order: This document directs medical personnel to halt resuscitation efforts and to allow a patient to die naturally and with dignity. The order does not block the provision of other medical care including comfort care.
  4. Declaration for Mental Health Treatment: This states your wishes regarding convulsive therapy, psychoactive medication, and emergency mental health treatment. It takes effect only if a court believes that you are incapacitated and cannot make treatment decisions.

Are Advance Directives From Texas Honored by Other States?

If you have an advance directive prepared in Texas, and you travel or relocate to another state, you will need to know if that state will honor your advance directive – that is, if the directive is “portable.” One state’s advance directive may not always be accepted in other states.

While most states will accept an advance medical directive that was created in a different state, some states will recognize advance medical directives only if a directive satisfies that state’s own legal requirements for advance medical directives.

Are Advance Directives From Other States Honored in Texas?

Under Texas law, an advance directive legally prepared in a different state has the same effect as a directive prepared under Texas law, with this exception: a directive from another state cannot authorize any withholding, withdrawal, or administration of care prohibited by Texas law.

The states may also differ on precisely what the language in an advance medical directive may mean. If your directive was prepared in another state, a Waco advance directives lawyer can tell you if it needs to be revised in order to be clearly understood and legally effective in Texas.

What Else Should You Know About Advance Directives and Portability?

There is little evidence of healthcare providers actually refusing to honor advance directives from other states. Still, if you’re traveling or relocating to another state, you should ask a Waco advance medical directives attorney to determine if your directive will be honored in that state.

Attorneys in Texas would like to assure a client that his or her advance medical directive will be valid and honored in other states, and it probably will. Nevertheless, if you are traveling or relocating, you should speak with a Texas advance directives attorney before you depart.

When Should You Have Advance Medical Directives Prepared?

If you are an adult in Texas, the answer to that question is “now.” We can’t know what the future holds, but preparing advance medical directives is the legal way to ensure that your instructions are followed and your wishes are honored if you become disabled, comatose, or incapacitated.

A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (that is, a living will) spells out your wishes and instructions regarding artificial nutrition and hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, pain relief, ventilators, do-not-resuscitate orders, and other end-of-life questions and issues.

Most people in Texas who prepare living wills are doing it to make it clear that, if a medical condition is irreversible and/or terminal, they do not want their medical providers to employ “heroic” life-extending measures that in effect prolong the dying process.

What Other Documents Do You Need?

Adults in Texas should also have a medical power of attorney that lets someone you trust make medical decisions for you if you can’t make those decisions yourself. A Waco advance directives lawyer can meet with you and prepare a living will and a power of attorney on your behalf.

You should also ask that lawyer to prepare an Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order and a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment. In the future, you may need these legal documents if you become incapacitated, comatose, or severely physically or mentally disabled.

How should you choose an attorney in the Waco area to prepare these documents for you? You’ll need someone who has substantial experience with advance directives and estate planning documents in Texas. How should you select that attorney?

Choose the Trusted Legal Team at Rainey & Rainey

The team at Rainey & Rainey has over two decades of experience preparing advance directives and other important legal documents for our clients across the State of Texas. An advance directives attorney at Rainey & Rainey can prepare the advance directive documents you need.

Your attorney at Rainey & Rainey can also explain and prepare a last will and testament, a trust, a guardianship declaration, or a comprehensive estate plan that will provide long-term financial security to your loved ones.

To learn more about advance medical directives in Texas, to begin preparing those documents, or to learn about our estate planning services, promptly contact Rainey & Rainey at 254-457-5083. For your convenience, we have offices located in both Waco and Georgetown.

The attorneys at Rainey & Rainey handle matters related to estate planning, probate, guardianship, and healthcare planning.

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