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What are Healthcare Directives?
An advance healthcare directive let your doctors and loved ones know how they should care for you during a serious illness or accident.
Healthcare directives include information about choices that need to be made on your behalf. These decisions can include the need to be resuscitated, consent to donate body organs, choice of doctors, and hospitals. They can also contain information about long-term care, including selecting a person who can make decisions on your behalf.
Healthcare Directive Forms
Advance healthcare directive forms contain three components.
1. Choosing a Person to make Decisions on your Behalf
Your decision-maker is the person who you’ll give complete control over making critical medical decisions when you’re ill.
2. Your Personal Healthcare Choices
This section is what most of us associate with healthcare directives. This part of the form is where you declare your own choices regarding the type of care you want to receive.
3. Your Confirmation and Signature
The last portion of the document is about reviewing the information you’ve provided and confirming it with your signature.
Choosing Your Medial Decision-Maker
There are specific ground rules for selecting a decision-maker. This person must be at least 18 years old and be prepared for making decisions on your behalf. You should know the decision-maker well enough and trust that this person has a clear understanding of your preferences. A decision-maker cannot be your doctor or any other medical staff at your hospital or healthcare facility. For this reason, most people choose a close family member or friend as their medical decision-maker.
What types of decisions can this person make for you?
This person can make decisions about caregivers and the medical treatments that doctors, nurses, social workers, and other medical staff can administer to you. These decisions may include specific treatments, tests, and medications. In addition, the decision maker can make choices about nursing homes, clinics, and hospitals.
A decision-maker can have a say about who can obtain access to your medical records, as well as make any after-life decisions such as coordination of your organs (if that happens to be one of your stated wishes).
Your Personal Healthcare Choices
Many people wish to live out their life as long as possible, even if it means being on life-support. However, many others see no benefit of living attached to a machine and prefer death. No matter how you feel about it, the choice is personal.
Healthcare directives can let you plan for the inevitable and ensure that your exact wishes are carried through. You can determine whether you want to live as long as possible, despite the consequences, or embrace death.
Your doctors will have access to the information on your health care directive form, and they are bound to make their decisions based on your wishes.
Just like wills, you can also make decisions about funeral arrangements, organ donation, and autopsies if necessary.
Signing a Healthcare Directive Form
Before signing a healthcare directive form in California, you must be at least 18 years old and require the signature of two witnesses. Witnesses must also be at least 18 years of age and know you personally.
Witnesses cannot be healthcare service providers, your chosen medical-decision maker, or work as a healthcare service provider.
Obtaining Legal Guidance for a Healthcare Directive
The sooner you plan for the future, the better prepared you and your family members will be when it comes time to face difficult situations.
None of us want to think about illness and death, but not planning for these events only makes them harder to bear when the time comes. Advance health care directives and other estate planning processes give us an opportunity to prepare.
You may feel overwhelmed or confused by all the terms and legal terminology involved. Consult the help of an estate planning attorney who can help you sort it out and ensure that you have a solid legal plan that’s based on your wishes.
Contact us for a completely free consultation today.