An advance health care directive or “Advance Directive” is a legal document that authorizes an individual to make decisions regarding health care, medical attention and personal care for you in the event that you cannot. An Advance Directive is an important component of a well-drafted comprehensive estate plan that should also include, at a minimum, the following:
What the Two Parts of an Advance Directive?
In California an Advance Directive is made up of two components:
- The appointment of an Agent for Healthcare; and
- Individual healthcare instructions.
Your Advance Directive is still legally binding even if only one of the two components is present.
What is an Agent for Healthcare?
An Agent for Healthcare is a person who is appointed to be responsible for making healthcare decisions if you lose the ability to do so. Your Agent for Healthcare will follow your Individual Healthcare instructions detailed in your Advance Directive.
What are Individual Healthcare Instructions?
These are specific instructions that you include in your Advance Directive that explains to your doctor, family or Agent for Healthcare your decisions regarding physical and mental health treatment. Your Individual Health Care Instructions will let your physician know which care you want under specific circumstances. This typically includes agreeing to specific treatments or excluding certain services or treatments.
Who Can Complete an Advance Directive?
You must be age 18 or older and demonstrate the capacity to make health care decision in order to complete an Advance Directive. In fact, every person 18 or older should have an Advance Directive.
What Steps Must be Taken to make an Advance Directive “Official”?
An Advance Directive must include the following elements to be “Official”:
- A statement of your intent to create an Advance Directive
- Your signature
- Signatures of either two witnesses or a notary public
- The date the Advance Directive is signed.
When is an Advance Directive Effective?
Your Advance Directive is effective only when your physician decides that you do not have the “capacity” – that is, the ability—to make your own healthcare decisions.
Where can I get help with an Advance Directive?
You can call a California Estate Planning Attorney to help you with your Advance Directive. Contact the Law Office of Jonathan Alexander, Esq. at (949) 334-7823 today to get your Advance Health Care Directive and your estate plan in place.
Mr. Alexander is a compassionate, licensed estate planning attorney, with 20 years’ experience. For more about Mr. Alexander, please view his bio here.
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