Making decisions about medical care can be challenging, particularly for families under stress or emotional strain. Advance directives can guide difficult choices, such as the use of life-support systems and determining levels of care.
Advance directives are documents that detail a patient’s instructions about his or her future health care. Preparing advance directives enables patients to tell their family and care team exactly the kind of care they do and do not want, and protects their rights.
We recommend that all patients who are 18 years of age or older prepare advance directives.
Under Texas law, these advance directives (PDF) must be followed if patients become mentally or physically unable to express their wishes (you can download the forms further down this page):
- Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates: Also called a living will, this document provides specific instructions about the kind of health care treatment that a person does and does not want.
- Medical Power of Attorney: Formerly called durable powers of attorney for health care, this document gives an agent or proxy the power to make health care decisions.
- Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order: A medical order prepared and signed by the attending physician, this document allows a patient to refuse specific life-sustaining treatments outside the hospital.
- Declaration for Mental Health Treatment: This allows a patient to make decisions in advance about mental health treatment and psychoactive medication, convulsive therapy, and emergency mental health treatment. The instructions will be followed only if a court believes the patient is incapacitated to make treatment decisions.
- Statutory Durable Power of Attorney: This form designates an agent who is empowered to take certain actions regarding a patient's property. It does not authorize anyone to make medical and other health care decisions for them.
Complete an Advance Directive
To prepare an advance directive, download, print, and complete the appropriate form:
Living Will (Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates)
Medical Power of Attorney
Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order
Declaration for Mental Health Treatment
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
Submit an Advance Directive
UT Southwestern accepts written advance directives from patients who present them to us.
- Request that your health care provider forward your advance directive to the UT Southwestern Medical Records Department to ensure it is on file for every hospital visit.
- Provide all your health care providers, in each clinical practice you visit, a copy of your current directive.
- Notify all your health care providers if you modify or revoke the directive.