Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
In your Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, or financial power of attorney, you are appointing an agent to act for you if you cannot act for yourself. Your agent will have access to many of your assets, including bank accounts, insurance policies, and real property, among others. Having a power of attorney can prevent a costly guardianship and generally make life easier for you and your family; however, you should exercise extreme caution in who you appoint as your agent. You can also choose whether you want your power of attorney to be effective immediately upon signing, or only if you become incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney appoints an agent to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated, either permanently or temporarily. A medical power of attorney is not effective as long as you can make your own medical decisions. If you do not have a medical power of attorney and need someone to make decisions for you, a Texas statute dictates who will make those decisions in order of priority. You may not want the person the state has chosen for you to make those decisions. A medical power of attorney can provide you with peace of mind as to medical decisions if you become incapacitated.
Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (Living Will)
Although technically not a power of attorney, an Advance Directive is another important piece in your estate plan. In your Directive, or Living Will, you are not appointing a person to make end of life decisions for you. Instead, you are deciding whether you would want extraordinary means taken to save your life if you are diagnosed with a terminal or an irreversible condition, and you would need such life sustaining treatment to stay alive. This document puts your choices in writing, so that if such a time comes, your family and healthcare practitioners are aware of your wishes and can honor them.