Advance health care directives are the medical portion of a California estate plan. They typically include the designation of a health care agent, a statement of wishes concerning end of life care (commonly called a living will), instructions concerning organ donation and provisions for the disposition of remains. You can also add any other medical instructions you so desire. In other states, such documents are called durable powers of attorney for health care and directives to physicians, among others.
The concept of the directive is that you make a decision now to take affect sometime in the future if a certain situation occurs.
For example, you appoint a health care agent to make health care decisions for you at some time in the future, if you can’t make those decisions yourself. Your health care agent would be able to choose your doctor, consent to medical treatment such as a particular medicine or surgery, or okay physical therapy.
While it’s generally better to let your medical personnel and health care agent make good decisions once they assess the specific situation, you can make known your medical decision wishes and instructions in advance. The living will portion of a directive is a good place to set forth those wishes.
If you don’t want to be hooked up to life support machines or be subjected to other medical heroics when there is no hope of recovery, you can make that medical decision in writing in advance.
Be sure that you also have a HIPAA release in place. A signed HIPAA release meets the requirements of federal medical privacy law commonly called HIPAA and permits medical personnel to release your medical records and information to and communicate with your health care agent.
If you have advance health care directive, be sure that your family and other loved ones know about them and where to find them. Using an online documents storage service such as DocuBank can ensure your advanced medical directives will be available when you need them.