ADVANCE HEALTH CARE OF DIRECTIVE
A “Living Will” and “Power of Attorney for Health Care” are the estate planning documents used in other states, but in California the Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is what we call the estate planning document used to let your wishes be known regarding medical decisions and end-of-life decisions.
An Advance Health Care Directive allows you to make important health care decisions for yourself and designate an agent to carry out those wishes in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make your own medical decisions.
In your AHCD you designate an agent to make medical and end-of-life decisions. But your agent will not be making the decisions for you, he or she will be enforcing the decisions you have already made. Your agent can be a spouse, partner, adult child, sibling, other family member or friend. Your agent cannot be a medical provider, operator of a care facility, operator of a care facility, or in most cases, any employee of any of these facilities.
Your agent will have the legal authority to instruct medical providers about your medical care if you are unconscious or unable to give these instructions yourself. You should also designate one or two alternate agents in the event your primary choice is unable or unwilling to act when the time comes that they need act and make medical decisions on your behalf.
Your health care directive will instruct your family and medical providers as to your wishes regarding:
- LIFE SUPPORT (PROLONGING YOUR LIFE)
- WITHHOLDING OF ARTIFICIAL NUTRITION AND HYDRATION
- ORGAN DONATION
- DISPOSITION OF REMAINS
- RELIEF FROM PAIN
- PERSONAL CARE
- WHERE YOU WISH TO SPEND YOUR FINAL DAYS
- SELECTION OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
It’s your life and your dignity – you have the right to make sure health care and final medical decisions that affect you are made by you, and enforced by the people you want.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A durable power of attorney allows you to name an agent (called your attorney-in-fact) to manage your property and financial affairs in the event you become disabled or incapacitated. Unless you have a properly drafted power of attorney, when you become incapacitated or disabled, it may be necessary to go to court and have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions for you. This conservatorship process is usually lengthy and expensive as well as being emotionally draining. But the need for a conservatorship can easily be avoided with a durable power of attorney.
There are two types of durable powers of attorney. An immediate power of attorney in which the power is effective the moment you sign the document. And a “springing” power of attorney which only comes into effect (springs into effect) upon the determination by your doctor (or a treating doctor) that you are incapacitated. If you become incapacitated and are unable to manage your finances, the person you have listed as your agent has the authority to deal directly with financial institutions such as banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies on your behalf.
A durable power of attorney’s flexibility is one of its main advantages. You can limit the authority of your agent to just the power to act in a limited capacity for specific financial transactions or give him or her sweeping powers over all your property and financial affairs.
Your power of attorney gives your agent the power to act on your behalf for following matters:
- REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY
- FINANCIAL MATTERS
- BUSINESS OPERATIONS
- INSURANCE AND ANNUITIES
- RETIREMENT PLANS
- ESTATE, TRUST, AND OTHER BENEFICIARY TRANSACTIONS
- LEGAL CLAIMS AND LITIGATION
- TAX MATTERS
- PERSONAL AND FAMILY MAINTENANCE
- GOVERNMENT BENEFITS
It is very important that you prepare your powers of attorney for health care and financial matters so you ensure that the people you want are making decisions for you and that they are making the decisions you want on your behalf. By preparing these legal documents you avoid the need for a conservatorship and prevent the people you don’t want from having the power over your medical decisions and financial matters.
Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney today and find out more about creating an advance health care directive and a durable power of attorney.
The Law Offices of Eric A. Rudolph specializes in estate planning and working with clients to help protect their legal rights. Please call us at 760.702.4046 or e-mail Eric directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.