Dealing with the many decisions and changes that accompany a serious unexpected illness or medical condition can cause significant stress and worry, regardless of your circumstance. The situation becomes more difficult when the person who has fallen ill can no longer make decisions for themselves.
Fortunately, having an Advance Health Care Directive ensures that you have a say in your medical care in these situations. Understanding the necessary steps and procedures to secure and establish any type of advance directive can be overwhelming. Davis Toft, APC can assist you in navigating this process.
One of the most important rights concerning a person’s life and health is their ability to make their own decisions regarding medical treatment. If an individual is unable to communicate their wishes for any reason, then the burden falls on their family to make those decisions for them. This process is often challenging and emotionally charged, especially if there is no known plan and family members disagree on potential treatments or medical options.
An advance directive allows someone to clearly define the medical care they would like to receive in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. It is a formal, written statement detailing an individual’s wishes for medical treatment in the event that they are unable to directly communicate with medical professionals. Advance directives guarantee that you receive the care you want, and they also help reduce undue stress from your loved ones.
There are four main types of advance directives. Each one pertains to a certain aspect of medical care, and they each have a specific purpose.
In many cases, additional documents are included with these advance directives. A Physician’s Order for Life-Saving Treatment (POLST) allows an individual to make decisions with the approval of their medical provider for future care. Similarly, a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order allows an individual to choose under which specific conditions they want medical providers to attempt to resuscitate them. These are not required as part of an advance directive. However, many people choose to include them for peace of mind, especially if they are facing terminal illness.
The most common types of advance directives that are utilized are the Living Will, the Medical Power of Attorney, and the Advance Healthcare Directive. Psychiatric Advance Directives have been used with growing frequency in recent years, but they are still not as commonly used as the others.
The state of California recognizes Medical Power of Attorney, the Living Will, and the Advance Healthcare Directive. The documentation forms for each Advance Directive are comprised of three main parts, including:
Once your Advance Health Care Directive has been completed and signed by the necessary witnesses, you are responsible for sharing it with any necessary parties. This may include family, friends, or medical providers. An Advance Medical Directive can also be changed at any time in California by completing a new form that is witnessed and signed.
To finalize your advance directive with a notary, the form must include your signature and the date, but it does not require signatures from two witnesses. However, the state of California does not require that an Advance Health Care Directive be notarized. If you are not notarizing your Advance Health Care Directive, it can be finalized with your signature and the signatures of two witnesses. The form will provide detailed instructions and requirements for the witness signatures.
The process of developing an Advance Health Care Directive can seem overwhelming. It may also seem time-consuming and confusing to fully understand what needs to be included. Detailing how you want your medical care to be handled in the event that you are incapable of your own decision-making is a major task. Working with an experienced Laguna Beach estate planning attorney can help make the process easier. It can also provide you and your family with peace of mind. Contact Davis Toft, APC, today for assistance.