Advance Health Care Directive
FAQ #1: What is an Advance Health Care Directive?
An advance healthcare directive also known as a durable power of attorney for health care decisions is a legal document that allows an individual, known as the principal, to appoint a trusted person, typically referred to as a healthcare agent or proxy, to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated or unable to communicate their wishes.
This document outlines the person's healthcare preferences, including end-of-life care, organ donation, and the acceptance or withholding of certain medical treatments. It ensures that their healthcare decisions align with their values and preferences, even if they are unable to express them at the time.
Having an advanced healthcare directive can offer significant advantages in situations of incapacity or poor quality of life. Firstly, it grants individuals the opportunity to exercise autonomy over their medical treatment and ensure that their wishes are respected, even when they are unable to advocate for themselves. This can provide peace of mind, knowing that their healthcare decisions align with their personal values and beliefs. Additionally, it relieves the burden on family members or loved ones who may otherwise have to make difficult choices on the person's behalf.
This legal document allows the healthcare agent to act as an advocate, making decisions based on the person's stated wishes, ultimately providing clarity and reducing potential family disputes during emotionally challenging times.
Overall, having an advanced healthcare directive allows individuals to retain control over their medical treatment, ensure their desires are honored, and alleviate the burdens that could be placed on their loved ones.
FAQ #2: Can I appoint my two daughters as co-agents for my Advance Health Care Directive?
Generally, it's possible to name two people as your attorneys or healthcare agents in your advanced healthcare directive. You can include provisions stating that both individuals must agree on any medical decisions made on your behalf. This is often referred to as a joint or co-attorney arrangement.
There are disadvantages to naming two people to act at the same time however. When appointing co-attorneys or healthcare agents, it is crucial to ensure that both individuals are willing to take on the responsibility and that they are capable of working together to make decisions in your best interest. This is often where a disagreement as to potential outcomes to your health that a problem may arise.
It is recommended that you include speciific language in your advance health care directive staing what is to be done in the event they disagree. You should have detailed discussions with both parties beforehand to determine their willingness to collaborate and make joint decisions.
While it is possible to appoint multiple attorneys or healthcare agents, it's essential to your health to not have delays because of disagreements, beliefs or locations. In California, it is stronly recommended by the legal community to NOT name two or more people as your healthcare agentIt is common to name your spouse or significant other as your healthcare agent since they are close enough to know your wishes and are more aligned with your beliefs and concerns.
Remember, this is your life and healthcare and you want a strong, aligned and committed person to make important healthcare decisions in the event that you are not able to express your wishes..
FAQ #3: Can I include funeral arrangement in my Advance Health Care Directive?
Including instructions on how to handle your remains in your advanced healthcare directive is possible, but an advance health care directive is only legally enforceable while you are alive. There could be chanllenges to ensuring that funeral arrangement could be ignored or missed if they are only listed in the advance health care directive.
However, it's important to note that the primary purpose of an advanced healthcare directive is to address medical treatment decisions and appoint a healthcare agent.
It is recommended that details of what you want done, be included in your Living Trust, Last Will and Power of Attorney for Asset Management, so call parties involved in your Estate Plan have the same information and can advocate for your wishes should it become necessary. This can be done in detail or by reference to the document that your attorney recommends.
FAQ #4: What kind of things should be included in an Advance Health Care Directive?
An advance health care directive needs to address specific areas in your medical care. While there are templates in California that are used regularly for this purpose, it is still best to speak with your doctor and an attorney to ensure that you have included all pertinent decisions. Like other Estate Planning documents, you should review your advance health care directive every 3-5 as health issues change, new doctors become involved in your health care, and your wishes for end-of-ife medical care may change.
Here are some of the key decisions that can be addressed in an advanced healthcare directive:
1. Treatment Preferences: You can specify your preferences for various medical treatments, procedures, and interventions. For example, you can indicate whether you would like to receive life-prolonging measures like CPR, mechanical ventilation, or artificial nutrition and hydration.
2. End-of-Life Care: You can express your wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as whether you would like to receive comfort care only, palliative care, or aggressive treatment for a limited period.
3. Pain Management: You can outline your preferences for pain management, including any specific medications or alternative therapies you wish to receive.
4. Organ and Tissue Donation: You can indicate whether you wish to donate your organs and tissues for transplantation after your death.
5. Caregiver Designation: You can specify the person or persons you would like to be designated as your healthcare agent or attorney-in-fact, who will make medical decisions on your behalf.
6. Decision-Making Authority: You can clarify the level of decision-making authority you grant to your healthcare agent. For example, you may specify that they have complete authority to make decisions, or you may limit their authority by providing specific instructions or limitations.
7. Ethical and Religious Considerations: If you have any religious or ethical beliefs that may influence your medical decisions, you can state these preferences in your advanced healthcare directive.
8. Mental Health Treatment: You can express your preferences regarding mental health treatments, including whether you wish to receive specific medications, therapy, or hospitalization.
The exact decisions covered in an advanced healthcare directive can vary depending on the individual preference of the patient. Problems arise most often with this part of an Estate Plan, so it is imperitive to carefully determine who you healthcare agent is going to be. It is important to ensure that your advanced healthcare directive accurately reflects your wishes and will definately be carried out by your healthcare agent, doctors and family members..