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Planning for Long-Term Disability Through Advance Health Care Directives

Would your doctors and loved ones know what medical treatment you would want if an accident or illness left you incapacitated? If you haven’t written down your wishes or named someone to oversee your care, then you’re leaving these crucial issues to be decided by family members, doctors or even judges. The best way to avoid these kinds of complications is by creating an advance health care directive (AHCD) as part of your estate planning.

An AHCD explains your wishes in writing so that family members and the medical professionals providing care do not need to puzzle over what they think you would want. Through your AHCD, you provide clear direction to minimize conflict and maximize the efficiency with which you receive care.

In California, an AHCD can be thought of as two documents combined into one:

  • Durable power of attorney for health care—This document names a person, known as an agent, who will have the power to direct your health care should you become unable to do so yourself.
  • Living will/ instructions for health care — This document sets out the types of medical treatment you would and would not want to receive under designated circumstances.

Choosing an agent is one of the most important parts of creating an advance health care directive. Your agent should be someone you can trust and can depend on to act in your best interests. You will also want to choose someone who is calm under pressure, because your agent may face pushback from family members when asserting your health care wishes. You are not required to choose an agent who lives in California. However, if you choose an out-of-state agent, you should make sure it is someone who is willing and able to come to California quickly if necessary.

Beyond designating an agent, your AHCD allows you to specify your preferences regarding a wide range of issues, including:

  • Accepting or refusing life-sustaining treatments like CPR, feeding tubes and ventilators
  • Receiving pain medications
  • Making organ donations
  • Indicating your main doctor

After you complete your advance health care directive, you should make copies and distribute them to those closest to you. Provide one to your doctor to have it included in your medical records. Don’t forget to keep a copy for yourself, preferably in an easy-to-find location in your home — not in a locked drawer.

The Sterling Law Group’s lawyers, based in Roseville and Sacramento, would be happy to assist with any aspect of creating an advance health care directive. To schedule a consultation with our attorneys, please call 916-790-9202 or contact us online.

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  • Roseville Office
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    Roseville, California 95678
    Phone: 916-790-0852
    Fax: 916-760-2701
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    Sacramento, California 95814
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