Making Your Advance Healthcare Directive In California

Estate planning goes beyond the basic concept of a last will and testament. One of the most important documents you can create is a living will. For help understanding the wealth of tools that you can use to plan your estate and for your care in the event that you are sick, speak to an attorney who can help explain these tools and can help you choose which tools work best for your situation.

What is A Living Will?

A living will is a document that specifies what types of treatment you want (or do not want) in the event that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself (I.e. In a coma).  A living will is usually accompanied by a power of attorney for healthcare wherein you specify an individual you trust to make decisions regarding your health care when you are unable to. Together, these documents are known as an advance healthcare directive.  It is important to recognize that this is a legal document and not a medical document.

The Worst Case Scenario

If you fail to create an advanced healthcare directive, you will leave decisions about your care to someone you have not chosen. If you do not have a close next of kin, an estranged family member can be chosen, or worse, a physician or judge can make these important decisions for you instead.  This does not work well in a crisis situation, or in making end of life decisions.

Creating an Advanced Healthcare Directive?

When deciding on your power of attorney for healthcare, you should keep in mind that there are limits to whom you can name as your “agent” (the person chosen to make decisions on your behalf).  While most people choose a spouse, other close relative, or a very close friend, there are some limits regarding people whom you cannot choose.  California will not allow you to choose any of the following as your agent:

  • Your healthcare provider or any employee of your healthcare provider (unless the individual is a relative, spouse, or domestic partner, or if both you and the employee  worked for your healthcare provider)
  • An employee or operator of a community care facility or residential care facility for the elderly.  

Living Will

Your living will should address your medical treatment preferences for the possibility that you are unable to communicate your wishes.  One of the most important issues to address is your preference of treatment with respect to life support.  

Some aspects of planning your estate and any end-of-life care are more difficult than others.  When you are faced with such tough and important decisions, you need an informed advocate to help you.  Contact the Charles D. Stark today for assistance with your case by calling 707-527-9900.


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