Advance Health Care Directive
Mistake #1: I don't need an advance health care direction because I don't have a serious or terminal disease
It is a mistake to think that one does not need an advanced healthcare directive solely because they do not have a serious illness because unexpected medical emergencies can arise at any time.
Here are a few key reasons:
1. Unforeseen accidents or emergencies: Serious illnesses and life-threatening situations can occur suddenly, even to those who are currently healthy. Accidents, injuries, or sudden medical emergencies can arise without warning, and having an advanced healthcare directive ensures that your wishes are known and followed if you are unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself.
2. Proactive decision-making: An advanced healthcare directive allows individuals to make decisions about their medical care ahead of time, while they are in good health and capable of expressing their preferences. This proactive approach enables you to have control over your healthcare decisions and ensures that your desires are considered, regardless of your current health status.
3. Avoiding potential family conflicts: In the absence of an advanced directive, decision-making authority regarding medical treatment may fall to family members or loved ones. Lack of clarity in decision-making can potentially lead to disagreements, conflicts, or stress during already emotionally taxing situations. An advanced directive removes any ambiguity and provides clear guidance about your preferences, reducing the burden on your loved ones.
4. Preference for quality of life or end-of-life care: Advanced healthcare directives commonly include instructions outlining preferences for end-of-life care, such as the use of life-sustaining treatments or interventions. Even in the absence of a serious illness, individuals may have specific ideas about the type of care they would want in such situations. Creating an advanced directive helps ensure that personal values and quality of life preferences are respected during critical medical decisions.
5. Legal protection: Having an advanced healthcare directive provides legal protection and empowers individuals to exercise their autonomy and have their wishes honored. It ensures that healthcare professionals and institutions are aware of your desired medical treatments, thereby avoiding any potential misinterpretations or conflicts.
In summary, creating an advanced healthcare directive is valuable for everyone, regardless of their current health status. It allows individuals to have control over their medical decisions and ensures that their wishes are respected in medical emergencies or situations where they are unable to communicate their preferences effectively.
Mistake #2: I can have my doctor witness me signing my advance health care directive
According to California law, there are certain individuals who are not eligible to witness the signing of an Advanced Health Care Directive. This includes the patient's health care provider, an employee of the health care provider, or the operator/employee of a community care facility or residential care facility where the patient resides. Furthermore, the law also states that more than one of the witnesses cannot be related to the patient by blood, married to, or adopted by the patient.
Asking the medical staff to witness your signature on an advanced healthcare directive is a mistake that can compromise the document's validity. Typically, advanced healthcare directives require witnesses who are not directly involved in your medical care or designated as heirs to ensure an impartial verification of your signature.
It is essential to consult the specific laws of California when creating an advanced healthcare directive. Each State has different rules regarding the number of witnesses required and their qualifications. To ensure the validity of your advanced healthcare directive, consider asking individuals who meet the specified legal requirements to witness your signature. This will help ensure that your document is properly executed and can be relied upon when making important medical decisions.
Mistake #3: I am going to keep my advance health care directive in a safety deposit box so I don't lose it
An Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity.
Once you've completed, signed and dated this document, here are some key steps you should take:
1. Copy and Distribute: Make several copies of your AHCD. You should give a copy to your healthcare provider, your attorney (if you have one), and any close family members or friends who may be involved in your healthcare decisions.
2. Inform Key People: Make sure the people closest to you are aware that you have completed an AHCD and know where to find it if needed. This could be your appointed healthcare proxy, family members, or even your primary care doctor.
3. Medical Records: Submit a copy to be included in your medical records. It can prove useful in an emergency situation if doctors can quickly access your wishes.
4. Carry A Copy: Consider carrying a small card in your wallet stating that you have an AHCD and where it is located. With the advent of cell phones in "every pocket" an electronic copy of all your Estate Planning documents can be held on your cell phone. Emergency personnel now always check cell phones for immediate family contact information, instructions, medications and healthcare directives.
5. Legal Counsel: While not always necessary, you might want to have a legal professional review the document to ensure that it's in compliance with current state laws. Laws regarding these directives can vary by state.
6. Regular Review and Update: Review the document periodically and update it if your wishes or circumstances change. Make sure that the most recent version is the one available to your healthcare provider and loved ones.
7. Safe Storage: Store the original signed copy (and other important documents like a Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions) in a safe, secure, easily accessible place and let your proxies know where it is.
Remember, the goal is to ensure your wishes are carried out, so keeping your AHCD readily accessible and well-distributed is crucial. It is highly recommended to have an advance directive or a living will that outlines your desires regarding your future medical treatment, if you become unable to express informed consent. This document can guide your healthcare agent and healthcare provider in making decisions that align with your wishes.
Communication is also key; you should have clear, open discussions with your healthcare agent, your medical doctors, and your family about your wishes and concerns. Lastly, you should fully understand the implications before proceeding with this decision.
Mistake #4: Is is a mistake to put my funeral plans in an advance health care directive?
It is not necessarily a mistake to document your funeral plans in your advanced health care directive, but it may not be the most appropriate or effective approach. The primary purpose of an advanced health care directive is to outline your wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care, ensuring that your preferences are respected if you become unable to communicate them.
Including funeral plans in this document may lead to certain issues:
1. Accessibility: Advanced health care directives are typically kept on file with healthcare providers or legal representatives for easy access during emergencies. Funeral plans may not be easily accessible or known to the relevant parties in these situations, potentially leading to delays or misunderstandings.
2. Timing: Advanced health care directives are primarily used during critical medical situations, where prompt decision-making is vital. Funeral plans are long-term arrangements that may not be relevant or necessary at the time of medical emergencies.
3. Flexibility: Funeral plans often change over time due to various factors, such as financial circumstances or personal preferences. Including fixed funeral plans in an advanced health care directive restricts the ability to adapt or revise your funeral arrangements as needed.
To ensure that your funeral plans are properly addressed, it is advisable to document them separately in a will, living will, or similar legal document designed specifically to address post-death arrangements.
These documents are intended to cover matters such as funeral instructions, burial preferences, and the distribution of assets after death. By separa ting your funeral plans from your advanced health care directive, you can ensure that both concerns are addressed appropriately and maintain flexibility to make changes when necessary.
Mistake #5: I don't need an Advance Health Care Directive if I already have a POLST
A POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) and an Advance Health Care Directive are two legally binding documents that pertain to healthcare decisions. However, they serve different purposes and cover different aspects of end-of-life care. The primary difference between a POLST and an Advance Health Care Directive lies in the timing and level of specificity. While an Advance Health Care Directive outlines a person's wishes for future healthcarein various situations, a POLST is a more specific, actionable document that contains medical orders determined in consultation with a healthcare provider. Both documents play vital roles in ensuring that an individual's healthcare preferences are respected, but they have distinct differences that warrant understanding. It is crucial not to confuse or conflate the two.
Here's a breakdown of their differences:
1. Purpose: An advance health care directive is a legal document that outlines your healthcare decisions and preferences in the event you become unable to communicate or make decisions. It covers a broader range of healthcare decisions, including medical treatments, life-sustaining interventions, and end-of-life care.
2. Legal status: An AHCD is a legally binding document, recognized in most jurisdictions. It allows you to appoint a healthcare proxy or make specific instructions about your medical care, adhering to your state or country's laws. POLST, on the other hand, is a medical order reflecting your current medical condition and preferences. It translates your treatment preferences into actionable medical orders.
3. Scope: While an advanced healthcare directive covers a wide range of medical decisions, a POLST form specifically focuses on medical interventions, resuscitation orders, and life-sustaining treatments. POLST is generally used for individuals with serious, advanced illnesses or nearing the end of their lives.
4. Execution: An AHCD is usually completed outside of a medical facility, often in consultation with an attorney, and requires appropriate witnesses or notarization as per local laws. A POLST form, on the other hand, is typically completed in collaboration with a healthcare provider, reflecting their medical recommendations based on your current health status and goals of care.
An Advance Health Care Directive and a POLST are both important legal documents that address end-of-life care. However, there are key differences between the two. A POLST is a specific, actionable document that contains medical orders agreed upon with a healthcare provider, whereas an Advance Health Care Directive outlines broad healthcare wishes for various situations. Both documents serve to ensure that an individual's healthcare preferences are respected, but they approach this goal in different ways. It is important to understand the distinctions between a POLST and an Advance Health Care Directive to make informed decisions about end-of-life care. It is beneficial to have both an Advance Health Care Directive and a POLST when appropriate since they complement each other in conveying your wishes.