A health care directive allows you to decide in advance how your health care should be managed, should you become unable to communicate your wishes or direct your own care. California law obliges your doctors and family members to follow the instructions in your advanced health care directive. But if you don’t have a directive in place, your care decisions may fall to a court-appointed decision-maker. In order to avoid unnecessary for you and your family, it’s wise to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you formulate and draft your health care directive.
In general, health care directives enable you to specify and articulate the “what” and the “who” of your administered health care. Common documents include:
Living Will or Declaration
Your living will addresses the “what”—as in, what types of medical interventions you wish to be done on your behalf. Although this document includes the word “will” in its title, a living will isn’t related to the wills that direct the distribution of property upon death. A living will or declaration lets you document your specific wishes regarding your medical care. Your directive can address important issues, such as: how you want to be treated or medicated for pain; when and how you want medical professionals to intervene in prolonging your life; which family members should be present in your hospital room; and other issues regarding organ donation and funeral arrangements.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
Your durable power of attorney for health care addresses the “who”—as in, who makes important health care decisions on your behalf. Also called a Medical Power of Attorney or Patient Advocate Designation, this document lets you choose someone—often referred to as an “agent,” “proxy,” or “attorney-in-fact”—who can ensure that your treatment preferences are known and respected. You can authorize this agent to oversee the handling of your health care declaration and to make other decisions about necessary health care matters.
Advance Health Care Directive
In California, you can file an advance health care directive, which combines both your durable power of attorney for health care and your living will into one document. If you find certain medical procedures unacceptable or want to dictate what life-prolonging measures should be used on you, an advance health care directive will protect your wishes.
Whatever your advance health care directive goals may be, you can trust that working with me, experienced estate planning attorney Doug Buchanan, will give you the peace of mind you need. My goal is to make sure your wishes are clearly documented so that, should you become unable to direct your own health care wishes, you and your loved ones will be in good hands. Reach out today to get started.