Preparing for Your Health Care
Incapacity can creep up in the form of dementia or hit from out of the blue. Why not be prepared for what life throws your way? As part of our estate planning services, we provide the documents necessary for your loved ones to take care of your affairs as you wish and not what others decide. You can give a named person the ability to act on your behalf under certain circumstances and limit those powers as you delineate.
You have the right to give instructions about your own health care and you also have the right to name someone else to make health care decisions for you. An Advance Health Care Directive lets you do either or both of these things. It also lets you express your wishes regarding donation of organs and the designation of your primary physician.
California provides a statutory form that may complete all or just a part. This is the form that our firm uses because medical facilities are familiar with it so there is no question as to your intentions. It lets you name another individual as agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapable of making your own decisions or if you want someone else to make those decisions for you when and if that time comes. You may also name an alternate agent to act for you if your first choice is not willing, able, or reasonably available to make decisions for you.
This form also has a place for you to limit the authority of your agent if you so choose but if you choose not to, your agent will have the right to: (a) Consent or refuse consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or otherwise affect a physical or mental condition; (b) Select or discharge health care providers and institutions; (c) Approve or disapprove diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs of medication; (d) Direct the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/or (e) Donate your organs, tissues, and parts, authorize an autopsy, and direct disposition of remains.
You can also give specific instructions about any aspect of your health care, whether or not you appoint an agent. Choices are provided for you to express your wishes regarding the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive, as well as the provision of pain relief. Space is also provided for you to add to the choices you have made or for you to write out any additional wishes. You are also able to express an intention to donate your bodily organs, tissues, and parts following your death.
After completing this form, sign and date the form at the end. The form must be signed by two qualified witnesses or acknowledged before a notary public. Give a copy of the signed and completed form to your physician, to any other health care providers you may have, to any health care institution at which you are receiving care, and to any health care agents you have named. You should talk to the person you have named as agent to make sure that he or she understands your wishes and is willing to take the responsibility. You have the right to revoke this advance health care directive or replace this form at any time.