A healthcare proxy and a living will are two of the most common ways that Texas residents legally make their medical wishes known. Medical professionals will refer to either of these legal directives when a patient is unable to make medical decisions for themselves.
A healthcare proxy is a person legally assigned to make medical decisions on behalf of a patient. This trusted individual acts as a representative and is authorized to make healthcare choices when the patient is unable to do so. The healthcare law document establishing this relationship is the medical power of attorney or healthcare power of attorney.
A healthcare proxy is someone who understands your values, beliefs and healthcare preferences. It is their job to make medical decisions that align with your wishes.
A living will is a written document that allows individuals to specify their preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care. It serves as a guide for healthcare providers and loved ones when making decisions regarding medical interventions.
A living will typically addresses situations where the individual is in a terminal condition or a persistent vegetative state. It is often used to express one’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, such as the use of ventilators, feeding tubes or resuscitation measures.
Both a healthcare proxy and a living will serve to honor an individual’s healthcare decisions. However, they differ in their approach and legal implications. A proxy is a person that can use their judgment to make decisions. A living will is a document that doctors can refer to.
In Texas, both a healthcare proxy and a living will can work together to create a comprehensive plan for medical decision-making. Together, they form an advance directive. When both a living will and a healthcare proxy are in place, the healthcare proxy acts as the primary decision-maker, using the guidance provided by the living will.
Individuals do not have to make both a living will and a healthcare proxy. Ultimately, both are simply a way to communicate and protect a patient’s healthcare wishes. It’s best to understand the differences between the two and make an informed decision on what’s best for your own wishes.