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Is An Advance Healthcare Directive Part Of Your Estate Plan?

Autonomy and personal agency are two things most of us take for granted – especially when it comes to important matters like health care. Unfortunately, there may come a time in life when you are unable to make or communicate such decisions for yourself – a state known as incapacity. In later life, incapacity is typically associated with cognitive decline (like dementia) or a medical emergency like a coma.

Knowing that incapacity is a risk, you can and should include safeguards for your important medical decisions should the worst happen. When you contact Frisella Neilson, APC, our experienced and caring lawyers will help you prepare an advance healthcare directive as part of your comprehensive estate plan.

Putting Your Wishes In Writing

There are two main aspects of an advance directive in California. The first is stating your wishes for emergency and end-of-life medical care. Some questions to answer include:

  • What kinds of lifesaving and life-sustaining medical treatments do you want to receive? Are there any you don’t want?
  • Under what conditions do you want to be kept on life support? And how long should you be on life support if your chance for recovery looks slim?
  • When you pass, do you want to be at home or in the hospital?
  • What spiritual beliefs do you have that might inform your care?
  • What would you wish for the disposition of your remains?
  • Do you want to be an organ donor?
  • Do you want to have an autopsy completed after death?

If you’re having trouble answering some of these questions right now, imagine how hard it would be for your loved ones to try and make these decisions on your behalf. By completing an advance directive now, you can ensure that your wishes are honored and give your family confidence that they are making health care decisions consistent with your wishes, particularly in an emergency.

Choosing An Agent (Decision-Maker)

Although you will be able to make many decisions ahead of time, you can’t plan for all contingencies. For this reason, the second part of your advance directive will be the appointment of a health care agent, or medical decision-maker. This should be an adult (over 18) who is trustworthy, who you know well and who knows you well. Usually, it will be a family member or a friend.

Your decision-maker’s job will be to understand and follow the wishes written and instructions in the first part of your advance directive. They will also have the authority to make other decisions on your behalf related to your care and end-of-life wishes if those decisions were not already made ahead of time.

Addressing Other Incapacity Concerns

Some people lose capacity well before they need emergency or end-of-life medical care. When you meet with our estate planning attorneys, we can discuss other safeguards for incapacity, including designating an agent under a durable power of attorney. If you have a loved one who has already become incapacitated, we can discuss your options for pursuing conservatorship.

Learn How Our Advance Healthcare Directive Attorneys Can Help You

Frisella Neilson, APC, is based in San Diego, and we are always ready to assist you with your unique legal needs. To schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced, attentive and caring estate law attorneys, call 866-334-2614 or submit an online contact form.