Question 1: I’ve made an advance healthcare directive. Do I have to register it with the state?
No. There is no legal requirement that you register or file any advance healthcare directive you might have made with a government office. Advance healthcare directives in California have to meet specific legal requirements, but registering them is not one of those. The California Secretary of State’s office does offer a voluntary registration service, but you are not obligated to use it.
Question 2: If I don’t register it, how will I make sure that my doctors know I have one?
You should make sure that it gets to the right people if you ever need it. It’s a good idea to keep the original safe, but you can give copies to your doctor or other health care providers in advance of requiring them. You might also want to give copies to your spouse, close family members, or anyone you have appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf. As for the original, it’s probably best to keep it where it can be readily accessed and safe from harm.
Question 3: What about my will? Do I have to register that?
Though some people refer to advance healthcare directives in California as living wills, a living will is not the same as a last will and testament. Like healthcare directives, you don’t have to register your will with any state agency, but you will need to ensure that you keep it safe. Under California law, a will is required to be lodged with the court upon the death of the testator (creator of the will).