When it comes to planning for your healthcare needs, having a healthcare directive in place is an important part of the process. Essentially, this document lays out your plans and wishes for your healthcare, should you need extra attention one day.
This article discusses the reasons why you should consider creating a healthcare directive as part of your estate plan.
What Is a Healthcare Directive?
A healthcare directive is also known as a “living will.” It is a legal document that specifies your medical preferences. In it, you will appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to.
Having this plan in place is important. It helps ensure that your wishes are followed.
With it, you can determine things such as:
- When to remain on life support
- Who will manage your prescriptions
- How long you should be on life support
- How to manage your daily healthcare needs if you need constant care
- Whether you want someone else to consent to surgeries or other major medical decisions
Benefits of a Living Will in California
A living will relieves your loved ones of the burden of managing your medical needs. Instead, one person or a group of people will specifically take on that role. These trusted individuals can medical decisions on your behalf. They know you and care about you, so they can ensure that your wishes are carried out. They can even speak on your behalf if you're unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself.
Furthermore, without a healthcare directive, the state can have decision-making power over your healthcare. Often, the state’s decisions will not align with your wishes.
How to Create a Healthcare Directive in California
Choose an Agent
Select someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapable of doing so.
Write Down Your Wishes
Write down your healthcare wishes, including what treatments you do or do not want under different circumstances. Your healthcare providers and your attorney can help you make sure this list is complete.
Create Your Legal Document
Your healthcare directive should be in writing and meet the legal requirements of California. You can either use a form provided by your healthcare provider or an online form. You can also create one with your attorney. Whichever method you choose, make sure your lawyer looks it over before you make it official.
Sign and Date
Once completed, sign and date the directive in front of two witnesses or a notary public. Your agent cannot be a witness.
Share With Your Healthcare Provider and Loved Ones
Provide your healthcare directive to your healthcare provider and loved ones, ensuring that they understand your wishes. Make sure to keep the original in a safe place, as this is the copy that will be legally enforced.
Update as Necessary
Your circumstances may change. Your children, for instance, may grow into adulthood, giving you more options for agents. Perhaps you have a falling out with your chosen agent. Maybe your financial situation changes drastically, calling for a complete redesign of your plan. You must make sure your directive reflects these changes and always reflects your current lifestyle.
Tips on Choosing an Agent for Your Healthcare Directive
Choosing an agent for your healthcare directive can seem like a daunting task. After all, this is the person who will be making medical decisions for you. So, how do you choose the right person?
First and foremost, make sure it is someone you trust. You must be confident that they will make decisions in your best interest.
Make sure your agent is willing and able to take on the responsibility. Consider their availability and proximity to you.
Have a frank conversation with them about your wishes, and make sure they understand the importance of their role.
Remember, this decision is about putting your health and well-being first, so take the time to choose wisely.
The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates is here to help with all your estate planning needs, including creating and enforcing healthcare directives. It is never too early to start planning for the future, so call us today at (916) 299-3936 or contact us online now.