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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Sunday, November 14, 2021

What You Need to Know About the Latest Developments in Health Care Directives and Dementia Directives

Dementia is one of the common health issues that individuals face as they age. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia cause a person to lose their memory. They also lose the ability to understand many of the things going on around them, including the ability to make health care decisions.

A California elder law attorney assists you in executing documents that protect your right to choose your medical care. It is important to make your desires known now while you can make informed decisions about medical treatments and care for dementia-related illnesses.

What Is an Advance Care Directive?

California law gives people the ability to make their health care wishes known now for future care. A properly executed Advance Care Directive is a legally binding document. Health care providers in California must follow the instructions you dictate in the directive.

For example, if you do not want to be kept alive on life support, you can direct to be removed from life support. However, you cannot direct a health care provider to assist you in ending your life (euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide).

You can choose to include a living will or medical power of attorney in your Advance Care Directive, but the directive is different from either of these documents. The Advance Care Directive includes more information about your desires for health care.

For instance, you can include a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and a Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form in your directive. In addition, your directive may contain specific instructions related to pain management, hospice care, and organ donation.

Your Advance Care Directive may include specific desires related to the type of treatment you want to receive and the treatment you specifically do not want to receive during each stage of dementia. This information may include tests that you do not want to be performed after you reach the stage of moderate or severe dementia.

You may select someone to handle your health care decisions that are not explicitly outlined in the directive. This person also has the authority to direct doctors and other health care providers to follow the instructions you outline in your directive.

How Do You Execute an Advance Care Directive in California?

The state provides a sample form for Advance Care Directives. The state does not require people to use this form. You can customize the form or use another form for your Advance Care Directive. However, an Advance Care Directive must be executed according to the requirements in the California Probate Code. Directives that do not meet the requirements are not valid. Your family members and health care providers would not be required to follow your wishes.

Therefore, it is best to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your directive contains all necessary information and is executed correctly. If you want to modify, replace, or revoke your Advance Care Directive, you may do so at any time before you become incapacitated. An attorney can also assist you with these steps.

Schedule a Consultation With Our California Estate Planning Attorney

Advance care directives are legally binding documents. These forms are often used as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Contact our office today to discuss advance care directives and other estate planning tools with an experienced California estate planning attorney.


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