Why Do I Need An Advanced Health Care Directive?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us more aware of our health. More than any other time in my life, the phrase “you never know” is repeatedly used. And the phrase “at least you have your health” is increasingly fleeting. Well, there’s a way to make health care decisions in advance of any future health concerns, god forbid you can’t make them on your own.

A Durable Power of Attorney is a written instrument by which one person authorizes another person to act as the first person’s agent. (Cal. Prob. Code §4606) The effectiveness of the instrument is triggered by the first person’s incapacity, or inability to make decisions on their own behalf. An Advanced Health Care Directive is a durable power of attorney for health care. It “springs” into effect when the principal no longer has the ability to make health care decisions for themselves based upon a doctor’s or court’s determination that the principal is physically or mentally unable to make medical decisions for themselves.

An AHCD indicates some basic health decisions by the principal. Among those decisions are:

  1.  Anatomical Gifts
  2. Instructions Regarding Burial or Other Disposition
  3. Authorizing Autopsy
  4. Permitted Surgical Procedures
  5. Palliative Care
  6. Do Not Resuscitate Orders

The formalities for an AHCD require that the document must be EITHER notarized or signed by Two Witnesses. The witnesses cannot be the principal’s health care provider, the operator of a community care facility, the operator of a residential care facility or the appointed agent of the AHCD.

Yes, it is important to appoint someone you trust to be your agent for health care decisions. But those decisions should be made you, in advance through an Advanced Health Care Directive. Contact Barilari & Williams, LLP to draft your AHCD today!


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