Element 1: Health care power of attorney.
A California Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), which is the California version of a document also known as a health care power of attorney, will let you choose someone who can be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf should you ever become unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. While you can choose whomever you wish, that person should always be a capable adult who can be easily reached by your health care providers in case of an emergency. It should also be someone who is willing to take on the responsibility of making health care decisions for you.
Element 2. Your living will.
An AHCD should also contain any individual health care decisions you have made. These typically apply when, for example, you cannot communicate your wishes and are permanently ill, unconscious, or are suffering from medical condition the treatment for which would likely have worse consequences than the expected benefits. While some states allow for this decision making in a separate legal document sometimes referred to as a Living Will (as compared to a Last Will and Testament in which post-death directions are made), California incorporates these decisions in its AHCD.
Element 3. Your organ donation.
Your AHCD should also state whether or not you wish to become an organ donor upon your death. You are under no obligation to make this choice, and if you wish you can choose which organs you do or do not wish to donate and how those organs are to be used.
Element 4. Your physician.
You can choose whom you wish to designate as your primary health care physician. If you have more than one physician you can include these details as well.
Element 5. Your witnesses and signatures.
You should sign your healthcare directive and have it signed by in accordance with the witnessing requirements that are contained on the standard AHCD form. Alternately, there is a procedure under which the document can be notarized.
- Beneficiary Designations and the SECURE Act: Prior Designations - July 17, 2021
- Beneficiary Designations and the SECURE Act: Eligible Designated Beneficiaries - July 15, 2021
- Beneficiary Designations - July 13, 2021