An Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD) includes individual healthcare instruction and a power of attorney for healthcare. The AHCD includes allowing a person to plan for the possibility of their incapacity by designating an agent of their choosing, who can make medical decisions for them and give directions as to their care.
An Advance Healthcare Directive should not be overlooked as it can greatly affect your quality of life.
An advanced healthcare directive exists specifically to allow you to create a medical care/treatment plan for yourself to be followed in the event you cannot make medical decisions due to incapacity.
For example, imagine you have an unexpected accident and are in a coma. Your advance healthcare directive should spell out what you want to be done treatment-wise and also name the person who can speak with your authority on medical care decisions. Your agent can also make decisions about rehabilitative care and choice of facility.
An AHCD created in the state of California requires four specific parts.
• Primary Physician
If you have a specific doctor you want overseeing your care, make sure to list them in your AHCD. This will help prevent just any doctor or surgeon from offering care without your consent and will get the physician familiar with your medical history notified quickly to assist in advising about your care.
• Medical power of attorney
You designate a trusted person (also referred to as your agent) to communicate your wishes as to your medical care when you are unable to do so due to injury or illness. Your agent granted medical power of attorney by your AHCD has the responsibility of making medical decisions on your behalf. The decisions in question could involve a variety of medical situations, such as consent for surgeries, hospice care, specific medications, and other treatment options.
Because of the potential seriousness of the decision-making, the person with medical power of attorney should be someone you trust to act as if you were able to make such decisions. It should also be someone you know will be strong enough to follow through on your wishes. For example, if you have expressed what life-saving measures you do not want, your agent must know what you want and convey your wishes to the medical professionals in spite of pressure or anger from other family members who favor a different solution.
A durable power of attorney is a separate document that deals with you authorizing an agent to handle your financial matters while incapacitated.
• Living Will
A California AHCD includes a section detailing an individual’s living will wishes. The Living Will allows you to state what life-sustaining measures you wish to allow and wish to refuse, for example, specific surgeries, feeding tubes, or breathing tubes. It comes into use in the event of a terminal condition, coma, or permanent vegetative state. A living will allows you to state that legally you are withdrawing your consent to artificial nutrition and hydration as a form of medical treatment.
A living will also allow you to specify medical treatment plans based on your religious or spiritual beliefs. For example, if your religious beliefs forbid the use of certain medications or blood donations, you can instruct in your Living Will that these methods not be used, even if they could increase your odds of survival.
• Organ Donation
Although it is not a requirement to participate in an organ donor program, a California-recognized AHCD does include the option of allowing you to participate in an organ donor program.
Should you decide to donate your organs, your AHCD will ask for specifics about the organs in question. You can specify what organs you wish to donate or decide that all parts may be donated. You can name a specific individual as a beneficiary of the organ called a directed or designated donation.
If you elect not to address this part of your AHCD, be aware your agent may still be asked about donating your organs. Make sure your agent (medical power of attorney) knows your thoughts on organ donation so they can make an informed decision on this topic should it come to that.
Andrew Fesler has the experience to help his clients to develop a comprehensive advance healthcare directive. He will spend the time to make sure you understand each part of your AHCD. To set that up as well as any part of your estate plan, make sure to contact the Law Office of Andrew Fesler.