Advance Health Care Directive (“Living Will”)

If you are in a medical treatment facility and are unable to speak for yourself, who makes your medical decisions for you?  Absent a valid Advance Health Care Directive, the doctor on call will usually make them, and they may not be consistent with your wishes.

An Advance Health Care Directive (commonly known as a “living will”) allows you to designate one or more persons to give guidance to medical professionals on what treatments you do or don’t want, including end-of-life decisions.    At the risk of offending many well-meaning physicians, most doctors are trained to keep you alive as long as possible, at any cost, regardless of the quality of life you may endure after the treatment.  With an Advance Health Care Directive, you make certain end-of-life decisions, which are binding on your health care agent(s).

Many people have religious or other beliefs regarding what types of medical treatments they do or do not wish to receive.  With an Advance Health Care Directive, you can clearly indicate these choices to your medical providers.  This document should be provided to your primary care physician(s) and your local hospital.  Additionally, you can register your Advance Health Care Directive with the California Secretary of State’s office so that any medical doctor in California has access to it.

Naturally, you will want to make the choice of your health care agent carefully.  It will usually be your spouse, but may be a sibling, child, or close friend whom you trust to make objective medical decisions.  Absent an Advance Health Care Directive, doctors whom you may not even know will make these decisions for you, and they may not be the ones you wanted.

An Advance Health Care Directive is only one part of a comprehensive estate plan.  Our firm may not be able to prevent medical events, but we can provide piece of mind knowing that you have the required documents in place.  All estate plans done by our firm are personally drafted by an attorney, not by paralegals or legal secretaries as is the case with many larger firms.

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