Los Angeles Advance Health Care Directive Attorney
Effective and comprehensive estate planning is about more than just drafting your trust and/or will. Proper estate planning helps you account for all possible eventualities to ensure that your family, your assets, and your health are properly protected. Some parts of your estate plan are specifically geared toward events that may transpire well before your passing, including what happens should you become incapacitated. One of those important legal tools is known as an advance health care directive.
An experienced and thorough estate planning attorney at Blasser Law can help you understand the function of an advance directive, know your options for advance directives and other legal tools, and establish a health care directive that accurately encompasses your wishes and puts your care in the hands of a trusted friend or family member.
What is an Advance Health Care Directive?
An advance health care directive or advance directive is a legal document that dictates how decisions about your healthcare decisions will be made should you become mentally incapacitated due to illness or injury. If you wind up in a coma, come down with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or otherwise become unable to communicate, the advance directive will lay out your preferences for medical care.
In California, an advance directive includes two parts: (1) an appointment of an agent for healthcare; and (2) a set of instructions for your individual healthcare. Not every advance directive necessarily includes both parts, but we strongly advise clients to use both. If an advance directive includes both parts, then the healthcare agent will be bound by the person’s wishes as expressed in the individual healthcare instructions. There is a standard advance health care directive form provided by the California government which includes both a designation of a healthcare agent and a variety of specific instructions relating to healthcare and end-of-life care (for example, whether the patient chooses to implement a “Do Not Resuscitate” order).
The federal Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) requires healthcare providers (including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and hospice programs) to investigate whether patients have an advance directive and, if so, to recognize the advance directive and do their best to honor the patient’s wishes.
How is an Advance Directive Different from a Power of Attorney?
An advance directive is not the same thing as a living will or medical power of attorney (POA). Instead, the advance directive allows patients to accomplish the same goals as those legal tools, and more. The advance directive format has replaced the living will in California and offers a much more comprehensive option for instructions and appointment of agents. The advance directive has, likewise, replaced the durable POA for health care in California, permitting patients to not only appoint an agent but also to add specific instructions for medical care decision-making.
The advance directive pertains only to medical decisions and does not give instructions about the patient’s finances or appoint an agent for financial decision-making. In our view, as experienced estate planning attorneys, an advance health care directive is essential for just about anyone aged 18 or older. Talk to a knowledgeable California estate planning attorney at Blasser Law to learn about the parameters of an advance directive and how to ensure that yours is legally sound and fully implemented.
Do I Need an Advance Health Care Directive?
An advance directive allows you to put your wishes in writing and to decide who has the right to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. If you are wondering whether you need an advance directive, the question is simple: Do you care about having any input over what happens to your body when you are unable to communicate?
If you want to ensure either that certain things do or do not happen when you are incapacitated, or if you want to make sure you know who will be making important medical decisions on your behalf, then you should establish an advance directive. A seasoned estate planning attorney can help you understand which rights the directive protects and how to decide on whom to appoint and the other various options.
Thorough and Effective Estate Planning Attorneys for Advance Healthcare Directives and More in Claremont and Los Angeles County
Get help preparing every aspect of your estate plan, from trusts & wills to powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives, by contacting a seasoned, knowledgeable, and compassionate Claremont estate planning lawyer at Blasser Law at 877-927-2181.