Health care directives as a part of estate planning

When most Californians think about estate planning, they think about how money is going to be passed down to their family and friends upon their death. While this is true to a certain extent, estate planning has a much broader reach. For example, estate planning can include how important financial and health care decisions will be made in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated and, as a result, unable to make those decisions on their own.

This is why one important estate planning tool is the health care directive. This document can spell out how one wants his or health to be treated when he or she becomes unable to make those decisions. But they can raise an important question: to what extent do medical professionals have to follow a health care directive?

Generally speaking, medical professionals should follow these directives, but there can be exceptions. For example, if a directive contradicts the conscious of a doctor or other medical professional, then he or she may be able to avoid liability for foregoing the directions laid out in the directive. Also, directives that, if followed, would be against hospital policy or result in ineffective medical care can be foregone.

However, in order for medical professionals to avoid a health care directive, they must notify the patient or his or her named agent. This will allow the individual or his or her agent to decide whether to transfer the patient to another doctor or hospital that will abide by the wishes set forth in the directive.

Having a holistic estate plan can be crucial to not only you and your loved ones' financial health, but also your physical well-being. With this in mind, Californians will want to ensure that they have left no stone unturned with regard to this matter.

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