Advanced Health Care Directives: An Essential Part of Every Estate Plan

Advanced Health Care Directive

It is sometimes difficult to think about the care and treatment you would want in the event you are incapable of making your own healthcare decisions. Regardless, you may unexpectedly be in a position where you cannot speak for yourself — such as an accident or severe illness — and be unable to make or communicate your treatment decisions. If this happens, you want to be confident that the decisions made match your values and wishes.

What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An Advanced Health Care Directive is a written document that describes your values and wishes and allows you to appoint a designated agent to make healthcare and treatment decisions on your behalf.  As an example, the directive might include details about the use of pain-relieving drugs, when treatment should be halted, organ donation, whether artificial nutrition and hydration should be provided, and religious restrictions.

Who Should I Select as My Agent?

As for the designated agent, the usual choices are your spouse, domestic partner, adult child, other relative, or a close friend. A good agent should have the intellectual and emotional strength and willingness to carry out your wishes, and the common sense in making discretionary decisions not explicitly stated in your Advanced Health Care Directive. Your agent has a duty to act consistently with your desires as expressed in your Advanced Health Care Directive or otherwise made known to the agent. If your desires are not known to your agent, then your agent must act in your best interest, and the law requires the agent to consider your personal values when determining what would be in your best interest.

What are the Requirements of an Advanced Heath Care Directive in California?

In California, an Advanced Health Care Directive must (i) contain the date of its execution, (ii) be signed by you (or in your name by another adult as directed by you and in your presence), and (iii) be either acknowledged before a notary public or signed by at least two witnesses who meet the requirements of California law.

What Health Care Decisions Are Included in an Advanced Health Care Directive?

Generally, health care decisions include the consent, refusal of consent, or withdrawal of consent for any care, treatment, service, or procedure to affect your physical or mental condition, as well as consent to the release of medical information. Health care decisions may include decisions regarding the selection and discharge of health care providers and institutions, approval or disapproval of diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication. Additionally, the term also includes directions to provide, withhold, or withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Give Us a Call

The coronavirus epidemic provides an important reminder of just how important it is, not only to us, but also to our family members and loved ones, to have an Advanced Heath Care Directive in place if the unexpected happens. Call us today to set up an appointment. We are happy to meet with you online or by phone if you prefer.

Schedule a Free 30-Minute Consultation

Leave a Reply