A man signs his advanced directives.

What are Advanced Directives?

Advanced directives, sometimes called final arrangements, are a term used for several different documents that help your medical team and loved ones know what your wishes are for your treatment and body if you cannot make decisions for yourself.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be an older adult or have a terminal illness to make advanced directives; anyone of any age or health status can create one. In fact, most doctors and the National Institutes of Health suggest that all people have advanced directives since there is always a chance of an accident leaving someone unable to communicate.

Creating advanced directives can be confusing for those who have not made them before. We will briefly explain the different types of directives, where to find copies to fill out, and where to find additional information.

Types of Advanced Directives:

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

A DNR, also sometimes known as an out-of-hospital DNR, tells medical professionals that they should not use lifesaving treatments on you if your heart and/or breathing stops. Examples of these treatments include CPR, intubation, and defibrillation. The DNR must be completed with the signature of the person it is intended for unless that person is incapacitated. In that case, a guardian or relative would need to be involved. Two witnesses need to sign on the document, or it needs to be notarized. A doctor’s signature is also required.
Here is a blank DNR form for Texas residents.
Texas Law Help has helpful information and Q&As on DNRs

Durable Power of Attorney (dPOA)

A dPOA is a specific type of Power of Attorney (POA) that allows your agent to handle financial, business, and other personal matters if you become incapacitated. Your agent is a designated person that you choose to be responsible for carrying out your wishes. Many people choose relatives or close friends to be their agents, but this is not required.

POAs allow you to say ahead of time what you would like done with your finances or possessions, and your agent is responsible for carrying out those wishes. It is suggested that you consult with a lawyer or estate planner when making a POA to ensure you and your agent understand the powers that you are and are not giving to them.
Here is a blank dPOA form for Texas residents
Texas Law has helpful information about dPOA and other POAs

Medical Power of Attorney (mPOA)

An mPOA is another type of POA that specifically deals with medical decisions. The process for completing one is similar to other POAs. Your agent will be responsible for making medical decisions for you if you are incapable of making them.
Here is a blank mPOA form
Here is more information about mPOA in Texas

Living Will

A living will, sometimes called Directive to Physicians, is similar to the mPOA but has some differences. An mPOA gives someone the authority to make medical decisions for you but does not discuss specific procedures like in a living will. Living wills are not to be confused with regular wills, which are documents that state how you would like your property and debts handled after your death.

Living wills are for an individual to say which medical treatments they would like to have performed on them if they are incapable of making decisions for themselves. After learning which treatments you would and would not like, your agent will make decisions such as blood transfusions and defibrillation only if you become incapacitated.
Here is a blank Living Will
Texas Law has more information about Living Wills.

Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST)

A MOST allows you to choose specific treatment decisions in certain situations (e.g., whether you would like to be transported to the hospital if your condition is unstable). It complements your advanced directives and is immediately valid rather than waiting for you to become incapacitated like a POA.
Here is a blank MOST form that you can find under the Resources section. 
Find more information about MOSTs


Making advanced directive decisions and navigating cancer can be challenging. Cancer Care Services is here to help so that no one has to cope with cancer alone! Our team can help you find additional resources and will determine if you are eligible for our assistance programs such as gas or medication assistance. Contact us today at 817-921-0653 or through our online get help form.

-Written by Shawn Howard, LBSW

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