Medical Power of Attorney
A “Medical Power of Attorney” (MPOA) is a document in which you designate an agent who will have legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot do so for yourself. (Note that this differs from a Financial Power of Attorney document, as it is limited solely to medical decisions.)
In Texas, for every married couple, each spouse is automatically designated as the agent for the other spouse—no document necessary. Regardless, it might still be worthwhile to prepare an MPOA.
To designate alternate agents.
If both you and your spouse are in an accident and simultaneously incapacitated, then your “next of kin” will typically have decision-making authority. For some families, particularly those who share a great deal of trust and respect, that might be okay. Even if you come from such a family, though, you might prefer that one sibling make those decisions for you instead of another sibling. Further, it is best practice to designate someone who lives near you. It can cause a great deal of stress if your “next of kin” is out-of-state or out-of-country.
It is also important to discuss scenarios that go beyond just temporary incapacity. What happens in “brain dead” scenarios where you are being kept alive solely by artificial electronic life support?
Hopefully, you have previously decided what should happen to your body by preemptively preparing an Advance Medical Directive document. Without one, your MPOA agent would have to make the uncomfortable “pull the plug” decision. With an AMD, however, your MPOA and family would need to make no such decision—because you made it in advance.
Whatever your situation may be, if you do want to control who will make medical decisions on your behalf, then it is best practice to prepare an MPOA to designate agents (and alternate agents) in advance of any potential incapacity issues.