Health Care Directives give you the power to ensure that your medical care will be taken care of in the way that you want, by the person that you want. When your specific wishes are not written down and your ability to make decisions is taken away, others are forced to guess what you want to be done with your health care.
Putting together your health care directive is an important part of your estate planning. Experienced California estate planning attorney Lauren Rios will put your wishes to paper, protecting your legal rights to make your own health care decisions.
Advanced Health Care Directives in California
An advanced health care directive (AHCD) is a legal document that allows you to do one or both of the following if you become incapacitated.
- Outline Instructions for health care: An AHCD allows you to prepare written instructions as to your future health care in the event you are no longer able to speak for yourself. An AHCD is the legally-recognized format for providing future instructions for care.
- Name a Health Care Agent: An AHCD grants you the ability to name a person as an agent who will have legal authority to make health care decisions on your behalf. This person will follow the directions placed in the AHCD when that information is available and make decisions for you when a situation arises that is not covered under the directive.
Choosing a Health Care Agent
In choosing who to have be your health care agent, it is important to choose a person you trust. You should also choose a person who will follow your wishes, and can make intelligent decisions about your health care. Health care agents are commonly a spouse, sibling, child, or close friend. These are the individuals who know you best.
The person you intend to name should be aware of the responsibility, and you should discuss with them that you are considering including them in your AHCD. You should also choose at least one alternative agent in case your named agent is unable to fulfill the duties.
What Types of Instructions Can I Include?
The instructions you place in your AHCD can be as detailed or sparse as you wish. Most standardized forms will ask you certain questions that you may answer but they may not cover every situation. Common instructions include:
- medical professional preferences,
- end-of-life preferences,
- life-sustaining treatment preference,
- defining artificial nutrition and hydration preferences,
- medical procedure and surgical preferences,
- religious beliefs that impact medical care, and
- decisions regarding funeral arrangements, anatomical gifts, and disposition of remains.
This list is not exhaustive. With the help of an experienced attorney, you will feel confident that your wishes are fully and clearly described for your health care agent.
Elements of a Valid Health Care Directive
A valid AHCD must meet certain requirements. The AHCD is executed by a California resident who is at least 18 years of age and mentally competent, and the AHCD must be witnessed by two qualified witnesses or signed by a notary public.
If you fail to execute the health care directive in the proper manner, it will likely be deemed ineffective. This means that your wishes may not be followed, and your legal rights are left unprotected. Your attorney will ensure your rights are protected.
Consult a California Estate Planning Attorney
Creating an advanced health care directive is an important part of ensuring your health care wishes are followed, and a trusted person can make decisions on your behalf. Attorney Lauren Rios has years of legal experience and will put that experience to work for you in creating your healthcare directive.
She represents clients throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Contact the Law Office of Lauren Rios today either online or at (650) 727-0900.