Advance Health Care Directive Attorneys in El Cajon
Taking the time to create an estate plan is one of the most important things that you can do, both for yourself and your loved ones. As part of your estate plan, it is valuable to create an advance health care directive.
At the office of Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, LLP, our experienced California estate planning lawyers can guide you through your questions about advance health care directives, how to create one, the importance of having one, and much more. Reach out to our legal team today to learn more about how we can help.
What Is an Advance Health Care Directive?
An advance health care directive- which is also sometimes referred to as a living will – is a legal document that lets others know what type of health care you want to receive in the event that you are too sick to express those wishes yourself. With an advance directive, you can outline many important choices about what types of care you want to receive, and you can also appoint a health care agent. In the event that you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes, your health care agent will make decisions related to your health that are not addressed in your directive. This is also known as creating a power of attorney for health-related decisions.
For example, your health care agent may make decisions related to who serves as your doctor or nurse; whether you receive medical care at home, in a hospital, or in a nursing home; what types of medications, tests, and treatments you can receive; palliative care; and what will happen to your body after you die. (Again, note that the health care agent will only be able to make decisions about issues that you yourself have not already addressed in your health care directive. Further, you can limit the agent’s authority through your living will).
Important Things to Address in Your Advance Directive
The California advance health care directive form has two parts: in the first part, you will name an agent for health care-related decisions; in the second part, you will make important decisions about your health care.
These decisions will pertain to:
- End-of-life care and whether or not you want your life to be prolonged for as long as possible;
- Pain relief decisions, such as whether or not you want alleviation for treatment of pain, even if it hastens death;
- Donation of your organs, tissues, and body after you die; and
- Who you want to serve as your primary physician.
If there are certain health care decisions and topics that are very important to you that are not considered in the standard form, talk to your attorney.
Choosing a Health Care Agent
The first part of an advance health care directive, as mentioned above, is choosing a health care agent or health care power of attorney. Again, this person will be able to make choices related to your health care that are not already addressed in your advance directive, and over which you give them authority. As such, it is very important that you choose someone to serve as your health care agent whom you trust. Your health care agent cannot be the doctor who is responsible for managing your care or any employee of a health care facility or institution where you receive care unless that person is related to you by blood or marriage.
Most people choose a trusted loved one, such as a spouse or a child, to serve as their health care agent. This is an important conversation to have with your family. Let your loved ones know who you’ve selected to serve as your health care agent, and what your wishes are regarding your health treatment if you are incapacitated and unable to express those wishes.
Let your family know that you have created an advance healthcare directive where these wishes have been written down and are legally enforceable. Having this conversation with your family can be hard, but it is very important to ensure that there are no surprises or major disagreements regarding your care if you become suddenly ill.
The Importance of Creating an Advance Health Care Directive
Thinking about a situation in which you are seriously ill and unable to communicate or involved in a tragic accident and unable to make decisions about your care is very difficult to do. While it can be hard to make decisions about your health care in the future, doing so is very important.
If a situation arises where you are no longer able to make decisions, that decision-making power could fall on the shoulders of your family. While this may at first seem reasonable and even desirable, it’s not. Having to make decisions about a loved one’s health care can be a lot of pressure, and result in stress, guilt, and uncertainty about what’s best. It can also lead to tension, disagreements, and conflict between family members who have different ideas about what is best.
For example, one person in the family may believe that life-saving and life-prolonging measures should be pursued no matter what, whereas another family member may believe that life-prolonging measures are not appropriate if the individual receiving such care will experience a reduced quality of life. Leaving such decisions to loved ones can be a lot to ask – it is more responsible for you to make these decisions for yourself, and then make sure they are expressed to loved ones. Creating an advance health care directive also ensures that you receive the care that is aligned with your personal values.
Call Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, LLP Today to Learn More About Advance Health Care Directives
Predicting the future is impossible, and you never know when you may be involved in an accident or experience a health crisis that renders you unable to communicate and presents the need for intensive medical care. If you do not already have an advance health care directive/living will in place, we strongly recommend that you create one. At the office of Garmo & Garmo, Attorneys at Law, LLP, our California estate planning lawyers can help. Please call our law firm today at 619-441-2500, send us a message, or visit our law firm in person to learn more about our services.