Advance Healthcare Directive in California

California Advance Healthcare Directive Agent

An Advance Healthcare Directive is now the legally recognized format for a living will in California and allows you to do more than the traditional living will. A living will only states your desire to decline life-sustaining treatment if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

An Advance Healthcare Directive allows you to state your wishes –- allowing you to refuse or accept life-sustaining treatment in various situations.

The Importance of an Advance Healthcare Directive

An Advance Healthcare Directive also can be used to state your desires about your healthcare in any situation in which you are unable to make your own decisions, not just if you are in a coma or are terminally ill. In addition, an Advance Healthcare Directive allows you to appoint someone you trust to speak for you when you are incapacitated.

The Advance Healthcare Directive has also replaced the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (or “DPAHC”) as the legally recognized document for appointing a health care agent in California. The Advance Healthcare Directive allows you to do more than a DPAHC. An Advance Healthcare Directive permits you not only to appoint an agent, but also to give instructions about your own health care. You can now do either or both of these things.

An Advance Healthcare Directive is valid forever, unless you revoke it or state in the form a specific date on which you want it to expire.

Choosing an Advance Healthcare Directive Agent

Appointing someone to handle your healthcare needs as you age is a smart estate planning move. More specifically, older adults should consider designating an advance healthcare directive agent. This individual will make your health decisions should you become incapacitated.

Legally creating a health care directive to appoint this agent can provide you peace of mind. Plus, the best way to make sure your health care decisions are made according to your wishes is to choose the right person to represent you.

What Can an Advance Healthcare Directive Agent Do?

Unless you limit the powers of an advance healthcare directive agent, they will generally have authority under California law to:

  • Give approval for or refuse any care or treatment affecting your physical or mental condition;
  • Choose or fire health care providers and institutions;
  • Approve or reject tests, surgery, and medication associated with your care;
  • Direct whether you can receive healthcare such as artificial nutrition or be removed from life support; and
  • Make decisions on donating your organs or authorize an autopsy.

How to Choose an Advance Healthcare Directive Agent

The person you choose to be your advance healthcare directive agent may be a family member or a friend. However, the agent cannot be your doctor or other medical staff that work for that doctor or the health care facility where you live. Note that there is an exception to this restriction if the doctor or medical staff are related to you.

However, because the advance healthcare directive agent is tasked with making important decisions, there are other non-legal qualities you should consider before appointing an agent. For example, your agent should be someone you trust with your life and can easily talk to about your wishes and expectations for your medical care. Furthermore, both parties must be comfortable enough to discuss any misunderstandings between each other’s expectations.

Additionally, you should choose someone who will be firm and assertive about following your wishes. This is especially important if your family has any objections to your wishes. Otherwise, if a doctor or hospital is resistant to certain approaches to your treatment, the agent also has to be a strong advocate for you in those cases.

Finally, note that you can always change your advance healthcare directive agent before you are incapacitated. However, you must make this change in writing and tell your healthcare provider. Therefore, while this is an important decision you should take seriously, if you fall out with a previously chosen agent, you can replace them.

Contact A People’s Choice for Help with Your Advance Healthcare Directive Legal Documents

The California probate code provides a form that you can fill to create an advance healthcare directive. That said, if you want to create a custom advance healthcare directive, you can contact A People’s Choice for affordable, non-attorney help in preparing the document. Plus, A People’s Choice can also help with preparing other estate planning documents – contact us today to learn more!

Get help with your California Estate Planning today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your advance healthcare directive instead of an expensive attorney!