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What Is The Advance Healthcare Directive?


The advance healthcare directive is a single document that does a few different things in the event that the person who creates it (who we call the principal) becomes incapacitated. First of all, it is a power of attorney for healthcare, which allows the principal to name an agent to make healthcare decisions for them. Secondly, it gives instructions about end-of-life decisions – much like a living will would do in giving instructions to physicians and agents about the principal’s desires if the principal develops a terminal medical condition. Thirdly, it gives instructions about post-death decisions, including autopsy, organ donation and final disposition of the remains (cremation or burial and any particular desires about memorial services or funerals).

What Are The Benefits Of Having An Advance Healthcare Directive?

The primary benefit is that the person gets to choose who will make their medical decisions, and is able to give them instructions about those medical decisions in order to ensure that their wishes are followed.

What Types of Instructions Are Included in the Advance Healthcare Directive?

The advance healthcare directive includes instructions regarding medical decisions, personal care decisions, end-of-life decisions and post-death authority.

Is An Advance Healthcare Directive Irrevocable?

No. A healthcare directive may be revoked, altered or amended by the principal for as long as the principal has the capacity to do so.

Should I Appoint A Durable Power Of Attorney In Addition To The Healthcare Directive?

That’s not necessary. That designation is included in the healthcare directive.

Who Should I Appoint As A Durable Power Of Attorney For Healthcare?

In the healthcare directive, you choose someone as a power of attorney for healthcare. The person that you choose should be someone who you trust to follow your instructions about medical care and someone who you believe would understand your wishes and be able to correctly assess your desires for medical treatment. I would try to find someone with whom I shared a similar value system and whose discretion I trusted. If I could find a person with those qualities who was also a medical professional, that would be even better, because then they would have a better understanding of what was going on with my condition and be able to speak with other medical professionals.

How Do I Establish An Advance Healthcare Directive?

It’s a fairly simple document to create. In California, we have a statutory form healthcare directive, which simply allows the person to fill in the blanks and answer various questions about who they want to make their decisions. It also allows the person to give instruction as to what those decisions would be under different circumstances.

Do I Always Need An Attorney To Establish An Advance Healthcare Directive?

No, you do not always need an attorney to establish an advance healthcare directive; the statutory form is very simple to complete without the assistance of an attorney. You simply need to have it witnessed or notarized.

Additional Information On Advance Healthcare Directives In California

An advanced healthcare directive is one of the two documents that literally every adult person should have. There is no reason for an adult not to have an advanced healthcare directive and a general power of attorney. Other documents for estate planning may apply to some and not others, but everyone has the potential for needing someone else to make their medical and personal decisions for them.

For more information on Advanced Healthcare Directive In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 385-6303 today.

Newell & Havens Attorney At Law

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