As people age, they often begin worrying about the kind of medical care they will receive if they become too ill or injured to voice their preferences. While you can convey your desires to your family, a legal document outlining your preferred options helps ensure that medical facilities and providers know what you want.
In California, such a document is called an advance health care directive, and it has a critical place in your estate planning toolbox. With this tool, you can decide the treatments you want and refuse those you do not wish to undergo.
How do you create an advance health care directive?
The first step involves designating an individual (usually referred to as your agent) to make health care decisions based on your wishes and communicate with your health care providers on your behalf. If your condition leaves you unable to express your preferences, your designated agent will step in and speak for you. As such, it’s best to discuss your preferences with your chosen health care agent to be sure they’re comfortable seeing that they’re carried out.
Your next step is to consider how you want your late-life medical care to unfold. Once you have made your decisions, it is time to put them in your directive. Some things to consider include:
- Consent to or refuse life-prolonging care (tube-feeding, assisted breathing, etc.)
- Choose or refuse hospitals, physicians and other providers
- Consent to or refuse medications, treatments and procedures
- Determine what to do with your remains (such as organ donation)
- Consent to or refuse cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Although end-of-life topics often feel uncomfortable, most people feel relieved after creating an advance health care directive. With experienced guidance, you can make sure that your directive clearly and legally reflects your wishes.