Compassionate Attorney Assisting Arroyo Grande Clients With Their Health Care Directives

A health care directive lets you decide in advance how your health care should be managed if you can’t communicate your wishes or direct your own care. California law obliges your doctors and family members to follow the instructions in your advanced health care directive. But if you don’t have a directive in place, your care decisions may fall to a court-appointed decision-maker. Because both your well-being and the stress placed on your loved ones are both at issue, it can benefit you to have an experienced attorney help you formulate and draft your health care directive.


Health care directives generally involve documents that let you decide on the “what” and the “who” of your administered health care:


Living Will or Declaration

Your living will addresses the “what”, as in what you want done on your behalf. Although it includes the word “will”, a living will isn’t related to the wills that direct distribution of property upon death. A living will or declaration lets you document your specific wishes regarding your medical care. Your directive can address issues that include how you want to be treated or medicated for pain; when and how you want medical professionals to intervene in prolonging your life; which family members should be present in your hospital room; and issues surrounding organ donation and funeral arrangements.


Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Your durable power of attorney for health care addresses the “who”, as in who decides for you. Also called a Medical Power of Attorney or Patient Advocate Designation, this document lets you choose someone—often referred to as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”—who can make medical care decisions on your behalf. Among other duties, you can authorize this agent to oversee the handling of your health care declaration, and make other decisions about necessary health care matters.


Advance Health Care Directive

In California, you can file an advance health care directive, which combines both your durable power of attorney for health care and your living will into one document. If you find certain medical procedures unacceptable or want to dictate what life-prolonging measures should be used on you, an advance health care directive will protect your wishes.


Whichever set of documents you want to file as part of your health care directive, having an experienced attorney like Doug Buchanan by your side as an advisor can enable you to minimize any uncertainty and burden placed on your family when you’re unable to direct your health care.


Health Care Directive FAQ

Do I have to both name an agent and also give detailed medical instructions in my advance health care directive?
No. You can do either one, That is, you can just name an agent in your AHCD who fully understands your health care wishes, or you can provide all the details about what treatments you allow and under what circumstances. You can also do both – name an agent AND give treatment directions.


Who should be my agent?
Your agent should be someone who’s reasonably available, and capable of working well with your doctor and family members. Your agent can be a family member, close friend, religious leader or trusted health care provider. It should not your attending physician.


When does my advanced health care directive take effect?
Your AHDC takes effect either when your attending doctor determines that you’ve lost the ability to make a rational health care decision OR when you specifically ask to have your agent start making decision for you.


Douglas M. Buchanan Attorney at Law offers over 20 years of experience helping draft health care directives for clients in Arroyo Grande and throughout San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara counties. Call our office at (805) 541-6440 to schedule an initial consultation.