No one plans on getting in an accident, but accidents do happen. Are you ready if you become incapacitated and can’t make healthcare decisions? Like most people, you probably want as much power over your health care decisions as possible. An advance health care directive can do just that. Now, how to create a California Advanced HealthCare Directive?

If you want to decide the state of your medical care when you can no longer express yourself, an advanced health care directive is what you need. This article shows you how to create a California advance healthcare directive as well as many of the surrounding legal aspects and advance care planning tips you should be aware of.

What’s an Advance Healthcare Directive?

An advance healthcare directive (AHCD) is a document that declares your preferences in the advent of future medical complications. It’s basically a legal document that permits you to record your preferences for future healthcare treatment.

Life-threatening and devastating accidents or illnesses can put anyone in a position where they can’t make many decisions while receiving treatments. For example, some people would prefer their health care provider take them off life support if they’re in a vegetative state. An advance directive can help you make this and other health care decisions clear in a legally sound manner.

An advanced healthcare directive can also help clear up ambiguity when medical practitioners can’t ask you about your preferences post-mortem. For example, in the event of death, would you like cremation or burial? You can add this to your advance health care directive for your health care agent to follow.

Should You Create an Advanced Healthcare Directive?

Thinking about the possibility of being totally unable to communicate health care decisions is not fun. However, even to the healthiest individuals, the future is full of uncertainties. While an advance health care directive is helpful for pretty much anyone, it’s an especially good idea for two groups:

  1. Do you have particular medical care preferences you feel strongly about? For instance, do you want to ensure you make a tissue donation or brain donation to a certain institution? If so, an advance health care directive can help health care providers fulfill those wishes.
  2.  Do you have a spotty medical history? If you think you are liable for any terminal illness in the future, perhaps you should get an advanced health care directive.
  3. How old are you? If you’re advancing in age, you can and should include an advance directive in your estate planning.

How to Create a California Advanced Healthcare Directive

How to Create an California Advance Health Care Directive

Although the advance health care directive might not be compulsory for all Californians, it is an important part of estate planning.

Registering an AHCD with California’s Secretary of State costs about $10. There is no fee attached to changing a current form or revoking it; however, if you cancel the recent document to get a new one, that’s a $10 fee. The advanced healthcare directive process also incurs other fees, like the amount you pay the notary public. However, overall, the process of appointing a health care decision-maker to carry out your wishes in the case of a health care emergency is very affordable.

Here is how to create an advanced healthcare directive in California:

Obtain an Advance Healthcare Directive

Typically, the advance health care directive can come in two forms: durable healthcare power of attorney and a living will. However, in California, an advance healthcare directive combines both. Hence, you must fill out the correct form to make your health care decisions legally binding.

Before getting an advance healthcare directive in California, you must be at least 18 years of age. You should also ensure the AHCD form you fill out is accurate. You can do this by using a legal document preparation form like A People’s Choice.

Pick an Agent

Picking the appropriate agent is as crucial as stating your preference in an AHCD. Your agent is the party that ensures your health care wishes are followed in the event of your incapacitation.

Any adult can serve as your agent on a health care directive form. Be sure to choose someone you trust, like a family member or a close friend. This way, you can be sure they will make their way to the health care facility and carry out the task properly.

How Much Authority Does an Agent Have?

If you become incapacitated and can’t make your own decisions, your agent has the authority to do it for you. Medical personnel will turn to your agent rather than anyone else for medical decisions, surgical procedures, comfort care, or other criteria outlined in your advance directive forms.

Your agent can accept or decline treatment, decide if you become an organ donor, and determine if you like cremation or burial if you die. This is a big job with durable power that requires a sound mind and a lot of trusts.

Perhaps giving this authority to an agent doesn’t sit well with you. In that case, you can limit their power in your advance care planning documents. Keep in mind that in California, an agent can’t authorize sterilization, ECT (convulsive treatments), adoption, psychosurgery, and placing a principal in a mental facility.

Moreover, your agent can’t make any health decisions for you until you cannot do so. However, you can ask them to start serving as your medical decision-maker or health care advocate earlier if you wish.

If you become incapacitated, your agent must follow your advanced health care instructions. If instructions for a particular issue aren’t in your AHCD,  your agent can use your individual health care instructions on other matters and your way of life to decide what would be in your best interest.

Fill out and Sign the AHCD Form

After picking an agent and ensuring your choices are medically appropriate, the next thing is to fill out your forms with your treatment decisions. You can include all kinds of health care decisions, including hospice care preferences, donation of organs, what to do in case of an incurable condition, and the like.

Typically, you need to sign the form after you fill it out. In California, the form is either signed by two witnesses or in front of a notary public. However, to make your AHCD more reliable, you should get your document signed by two witnesses as well as in front of a notary public to ensure a lack of undue influence. If you can’t, it is not compulsory.

Immediately after the signatures, you should make copies of the AHCD. You should give copies of your AHCD to your doctor at your health care institution, loved ones, and advance healthcare directive agent/health care proxy.

The documents involved in the filing of an AHCD are:

The Agent Instructions–This document belongs to the agent. Give it to them, and talk with them about your AHCD.

The Principal Instructions– You need to review this document, as it will guide the conversation with your agent.

AHCD Blank Form– You fill out this form with your medical and life care preferences and sign.

AHCD Sample Form– This form will show you how to file your AHCD blank form.

Handout for Witness– This is an overview of the witnesses required. This document is for your witnesses.

Can You Modify or Revoke an Advance Healthcare Directive?

You can. A health care advance directive stays effective till it is changed or revoked.

This is important because your desires may change over the years. What you were sure you wanted two years ago might be absurd to you now, so you want to make the necessary adjustments in your AHCD. As long as you are capable, you can revise your AHCD at any time.

If you want to make more than a slight adjustment, you should get a new AHCD, as many adjustments might confuse the parties involved. Hence, you revoke your current AHCD and begin getting a new one as shown above.

Do You Need an Attorney to File an Advance Health Care Directive?

How to Create an California Advance Health Care Directive

No, not usually. This legal process is multifaceted, combining a living will and the durable medical power of attorney. The process is straightforward, so the use of an attorney could be redundant unless you have a particularly complicated set of healthcare preferences or healthcare standards.

That being said, an integral component of filing your health care treatment preferences is legal document preparation. Although you know your medical decisions, do you know how to outline them in an AHCD legal form?

Why You Should Choose A People’s Choice for Your Advance Health Care Directive

A People’s Choice is familiar with how legal processes play out in California. It’s a reliable and affordable alternative to hiring a lawyer to help you sort out your health care matters.

An AHCD involves a lot more than filling out your legal address and adding an effective signature. It’s a binding legal document, and some legal knowledge is a big help when filing your advance health care directive note. You can entrust your documents to our legal professional team and ensure maximum privacy and assistance.

An organization versed in document preparation like A People’s Choice is vital for creating an AHCD. With our help, you can rest assured that you’re prepared for even an emergency situation. See how to create a Californian advance healthcare directive with A People’s Choice here.