The problem with end-of-life issues is that we don't always know when the end will be. If you're an older adult, you may have started thinking about what kind of care you want to receive in your final days. However, even college students should make sure that their wishes are known, should they be involved in a serious accident.
No matter your age or your current health, an advance health care directive is vital. Don't make your family members guess what you want. Doing so can place a very stressful burden on them - especially if family members disagree about what would be best.
What exactly is an advance health care directive?
An advance health care directive is typically composed of two documents:
- A living will, which clearly states your wishes in regard to medical care
- A durable power of attorney for health care, which names the person you want to make medical decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so
What kind of questions can it address?
According to the Office of the Attorney General in California, an advance health care directive can provide guidance to your loved ones and medical professionals on a wide array of matters. It can express your wishes in regard to:
- Life support or CPR
- Diagnostic testing
- Surgical procedures
- Experimental therapies
- Pain management
- Nursing home vs. home care
- Organ donation
- Other issues
Is an attorney really necessary?
While having a lawyer draft your documents isn't mandatory, it is wise. California law requires you to include certain provisions in your health care directive. If you don't, it may not be valid. Plus, your documents must include very precise language in order to comply with HIPAA law and ensure that your health care providers have the permission they need to release your medical information.
For both these reasons, among others, it's best to consult a California attorney skilled in these kind of estate planning matters.