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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Four Things You Didn't Know About Advance Directives in California

Everyone needs an advance health care directive. Even though many people believe that only seniors need these types of documents, the truth is that no one knows when an accident or illness might result in incapacitation. With an advance health care directive, you have more control over your health care even when you cannot speak for yourself. Our California elder law attorneys assist seniors and individuals of all ages in preparing health care directives and other important estate planning documents.

Four Things You Need to Know About Advance Health Care Directives in California

1. Advance Health Care Directives Are Not Living Wills or POAs

An advance health care directive does not give someone the authority to act on your behalf to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so. It is also not limited to end-of-life or life-sustaining medical decisions. Advance directives allow you to put your wishes regarding certain health care issues in writing. You can add a living will or medical POA with an advance health care directive if you choose, but it is not required.

2. Advance Directives May Contain a Variety of Medical Forms and Legal Documents

An advance directive may contain the same provisions that you would include in a living will or medical power of attorney. In other words, you can include all information regarding your desires for health care, including appointing someone to make decisions for you if you cannot do so, within an Advance Care Directive.

An Advance Care Directive may also contain other information and forms, such as a POLST form or Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment form. A POLST form provides detailed instructions regarding life-sustaining treatments, including feeding tubes, medication, and intubation. You may also include a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate order in your advance directive. A DNR informs medical providers that you do not wish them to use lifesaving measures if you were to die. For instance, you do not wish to receive CPR.

You may also include your desires and preferences regarding pain management, organ donation, and hospice care in your advance health care directive.

3. There is Not an Official Form

California has a sample form that you can use to prepare your Advance Health Care Directive. You may use this form, but you are not required to do so by state law. However, state law does require advance directives to contain certain provisions to be legally valid and enforceable. Also, advance health care directives must be executed according to the requirements within the California Probate Code.

Because you do not need to use the state form, you can customize your advance directive to meet your needs and goals. It is best to work with an experienced elder law lawyer to ensure that your advance directive complies with all state laws for a valid Advance Health Care Directive.

4. You Can Revoke or Replace an Advance Directive

You have the right to modify or replace your advance directive at any time before you become incapacitated.

Contact Our California Elder Law Attorneys for More Information

Health care directives give you more control over your health care choices. Our California elder law attorneys can help you customize an advance health care directive that includes your specific wishes and desires regarding your health care. We highly recommend consulting an attorney instead of using a pre-printed form because an attorney can ensure that the directive you sign covers all health care matters that are important to you. Schedule a consult with our California elder law attorneys to learn more.


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