One of the most important documents you can include in your estate plan is an advance health care directive. Maybe you don’t think you’re ready to determine who you’ll leave your assets to when you die. Maybe you’re just out of college and have far more student loan debt than assets.
It’s still wise to have an advance health care directive. Along with it, you should give someone power of attorney (POA) over your health care.
What information can you include in a California advance health care directive?
The purpose of a health care directive is to let you make your wishes for your medical care and end-of-life decisions known in case one day you’re seriously ill or badly injured and unable to speak for yourself. This can happen at any age. A skiing accident or car crash could leave you in a coma, for example.
Among the most important things that people address in their directives is when they want to continue to be kept alive and when they want life-prolonging measures to stop. If you don’t provide guidance in a directive, your loved ones could be in the excruciating position of having to decide when to “pull the plug.”
Why you need a health care agent
Along with a legal document with your wishes, you should also give a trusted person POA over your health care. They’re also referred to as your health care agent.
They are typically required to abide by your advance health care directive. Having POA over your health care lets them talk to your medical team and use their judgment on matters that may not be covered in your directive. Designating one person with this authority can prevent divisive family battles over what you would have wanted.
Having experienced legal guidance as you draw up your health care directive and choose your health care agent can help you ensure that even if you aren’t able to speak for yourself, your wishes will be known and carried out.