10,000 of them celebrate their 65th birthday everyday, and as they age they will transform the American populace into one that is older and greyer. Yet the common mantra of “60 is the new 40” is, all too often, a crutch that baby boomers rely upon to avoid having to face some serious issues associated with aging. One of these important topics is taking the time to create an estate plan that includes advance health care directives.
According to a poll conducted by the Associated Press last year, a large majority of baby boomers do not have any kind of advance medical directive. 64% of them say they have not created a living will, healthcare power of attorney, healthcare proxy, or other medical directive.
Even though health directive laws differ significantly from state to state, all states allow you to create some kind of directive that applies only after you have become incapacitated. In California, it is called an Advance Health Care Directive and there is a legislatively created form available for that purpose. An advance directive ensures that your wishes will be followed, either by giving someone else the authority to make your decisions or by specifically stating what kind of health care you want to receive or refuse.
All advance directives are completely optional, and no one is ever required to create them. However, if you become mentally incapacitated and you do not have a valid directive, your affairs may end up be managed through an expensive and cumbersome legal procedure known as a conservatorship.
As long as you are an adult who is mentally competent you can create your own health care directive to enshrines your medical choices are followed. You can also change your mind later and modify or revoke any directives you have made.