What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?
When you think of estate planning, writing a will or establishing a trust is probably what comes to mind. Estate planning can also address your lifetime needs, like having a plan in place should you become unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself.
An advance healthcare directive lets your doctors, family, and friends know the type of medical treatment you do and do not want if you are unable to speak for yourself. For example, you can decide if you want to have your life artificially prolonged.
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions about planning for your future healthcare:
Q: Who can create an advance healthcare directive?
A: California law permits any mentally competent adult (at least 18 years old) to execute an advance healthcare directive.
Q: How do I execute an advance healthcare directive?
A: You can (but do not have to) use a standardized form, which must be signed by two qualified adult witnesses or a notary republic and include your signature and the date executed. If you do not use a standardized form, you must still include this information. An experienced attorney can provide guidelines for executing a thorough directive that addresses your future healthcare needs.
Q: Who qualifies as a witness?
A: While a family member may act as a witness, you must have one non-family witness who is not entitled to any part of your estate (in other words, someone who will not benefit from your your death). Your healthcare agent (someone who has authority to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf) cannot act as a witness. An experienced attorney can help you determine qualifying witnesses.
Q: What healthcare instructions can I include in my directive?
A: In addition to life support instructions, you can also designate a primary physician, decide whether you want to be given pain medication, and provide for organ donation in the event of death. Talk to your physician, family, and attorney about other instructions you might want to include.
Q: Can I change or revoke my advance healthcare directive?
A: Absolutely. You can alter your healthcare instructions at any time. The best way to avoid confusion is by executing a new directive (which will automatically revoke an existing directive) and informing anyone who has a copy of the prior one. Your advance healthcare directive will remain valid forever unless you revoke it or specify an expiration date.
Q: Who should have a copy of my completed advance healthcare directive?
A: Keep the original copy in a place where your family or friends can find it (make sure someone knows where it is). You should also give a copy to your healthcare agent and primary physician.
Contact an experienced attorney with any other questions you have about creating an advance healthcare directive.
Your Estate Planning Needs
There is no one right way to plan for your future. Moreover, your needs might change over the course of your lifetime. The experienced attorneys at Randhawa Hundal LLP can help individuals and families in the Roseville and Sacramento areas with all of their estate planning needs, including plans for end of life care. You can and should have a plan in place should you become unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself. Contact us today for a free consultation.