When most people think of estate planning they think of preparing a will or trust to direct the distribution of their property upon death. But the estate planning process is also an ideal time to prepare a California Advance Health Care Directive.
The California Advance Health Care Directive has two parts. The first part is a Power of Attorney for Health Care, in which people appoint a trusted individual as their health care agent. The agent's appointment will become effective when people's primary physician concludes they are no longer able to make health care decisions for themselves, or can no longer communicate those decisions to others.
The second part of the Advance Directive is sometimes called a living will. This part allows them to set their health care preferences down in writing. People can include their wishes as to organ donation, the use of heroic life-sustaining measures, pain relief and palliative care.
To be enforceable the Advance Directive must be signed in the presence of a notary or two adult witnesses. People's health care agent, and employees of their health care provider or nursing home cannot serve as witnesses. One witness must be unrelated to the person and not a beneficiary of the person's estate.
The California Advance Health Care Directive is a fairly simple document. It is a good idea to have the assistance of a lawyer while drafting and signing it, however, to ensure it complies with California law. Many people have their Advance Directive prepared at the same time as their other estate planning documents.
Source: aarp.org, "California Advance Directive," accessed Nov. 12, 2016