What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive can be described as a legal document that gives certain instructions about a person's preferred healthcare treatments should they become seriously ill and unable to communicate or make medical decisions for themselves. Through your advance care directive, you can:
- Describe the type of healthcare you want
- Describe the type of healthcare you would like to refuse
- Appoint a healthcare representative to make medical decisions on your behalf when you're unable to communicate due to sudden incapacitation or severe illness
What Decisions Are Covered?
An advance directive may cover the following medical decisions:
- The kinds of healthcare treatment you want or do not want
- Your goals, values, and preferences about medical treatments
- The person you want to choose as your healthcare representative
- The hospital or healthcare facility where you would like to receive medical treatment
- Provide specific instructions about medical treatments such as dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), hydration, and artificial nutrition
- Donation of organs, tissues, brain, and eyes
- Burial and funeral arrangements
Appointing a Health Care Representative
When drafting your advance care directive, you (the principal) can appoint a family member, friend, or close relative, who is acquainted with your wishes as your health care representative (agent). An alternate health care representative may also be named in the advance directive to intervene if the principal's first choice is unavailable, unwilling, or unable to act. You cannot, however, name your doctor or any person working for your doctor as your health care representative.
What Are The Responsibilities
of the Representative?
Below are some of the responsibilities of your appointed healthcare representative:
- Have a one-on-one conversation with you about your wishes long before you become ill or incapacitated
- Make informed medical decisions on your behalf
- Make healthcare decisions that are in line with your true wishes
- Discuss your possible healthcare treatment options
- Consent to or refuse medical examinations, tests, or treatments
- Consult with the doctor and medical team, and review your medical chart
- Request appointments and second opinions
- Make life-support decisions for you
- Authorize that you should be transferred to another physician, medical facility, or institution, if necessary
- Above all, represent your best interests
How to Modify or Revoke
an Advance Directive
It is understandable that you may wish to change your mind after some time. Therefore, ensure that you review your advance care directive regularly. This will help ensure that it is consistent with your current wishes.
You can always modify or revoke any portion of your entire California advance directive at any time with the help of an experienced lawyer. You can also communicate your intent to modify or revoke by:
- Telling your agent or physician
- Signing a modification or revocation
- Tearing up your advance care directive
Furthermore, to revoke the appointment of your health care representative, you can:
- Revoke the appointment in a signed document
- Inform your supervising health care provider of your intentions to revoke
A new advance directive automatically revokes the old advance care directive if there are conflicts between the two documents.
Work With a Knowledgeable Attorney
Preparing your end-of-life care can never be too early. Notwithstanding your age, a serious illness can leave you suddenly incapacitated. Should you become unable to communicate your wishes and healthcare decisions, having a strategic end-of-life care plan in place will ensure that you get your preferred healthcare treatments. A knowledgeable California estate planning attorney can help determine the ideal advance directive options that best suit your unique needs.
Attorney Rodney Gould has devoted his career to providing outstanding legal services and guiding individuals through the advance care and estate planning process. As your attorney, he can assess the circumstances surrounding your unique situation, explore all of your legal options, and recommend a personalized plan for your end-of-life care. Using his extensive experience, attorney Rodney Gould can help you make informed decisions about your future health care and estate planning needs.