Why You Need an Advance Directive
In California, an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) designates a Health Care Agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and memorializes your medical care preferences. It is previously known as a Medical Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will.
What is an Advance Directive
The Living Will memorializes your healthcare wishes to enable your designated Power of Attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself.
The details of an AHCD should be carefully considered while you are healthy and able to think through quality-of-life issues and appropriate medical treatments. The more details that are included, the easier it is when family or close friends need to make difficult choices in emotionally challenging times.
It’s critical that your estate planning documents include the HIPAA / CMIA Waiver. This can be included in your AHCD or be a separate document. These are the federal and CA healthcare privacy waivers. They are critical to have in the event of incapacity so that the medical community will talk to your Advance Directive Agent and loved ones.
The problem is once you need help making medical decisions, it’s too late to create these important documents and court is the only answer!
MYTH #1: Because of my relationship status, I can make medical decisions for my spouse, aging parent or young adult child right now
It comes as a surprise for many people that they cannot legally make decisions for close family members without a properly executed AHCD. The fact of your familial relationship does not itself give you the legal authority to act for a family member – it merely gives you a priority to be appointed as conservator through the court.
MYTH #2: I can create an AHCD on my own when I need it.
You can only create an AHCD while you have mental capacity; however, when you need to utilize the document is after you lose mental capacity. Simply put, once you need it, it’s too late to create it. If you are unable to create one, you and your family must go through the expensive and invasive court process known as a Conservatorship. Unless you regain capacity, a Conservatorship is for the rest of your life. This means the court is involved on an ongoing basis which is very expensive and intrusive.
Our Goldfarb & Luu team has personally cared for many family members, and we have guided hundreds of clients through the maze of the health care system and the process of aging, illness, disability and death. We value an extremely detailed AHCD for all of our clients and work with you and your family to create a legally binding document that meets your needs.
We are proud to say that nurses and doctors have told our clients that their AHCDs are the best they’ve ever seen.