Category Archives: Living Will

Using powers of attorney in California

When people are engaged in estate planning, they often do not think about who will make important decisions on their behalf while they are still living but unable to make decisions due to illness, injury or being incapacitated. Setting up powers of attorney in the event an incapacitating event occurs can help individuals make certain their wishes are followed.

There are three important types of powers of attorney that people should consider having in place. A health care power of attorney give a designated agent the power to make decisions regarding treatment for a person. This is not the same as a living will as it can encompass treatment needs in the event a person becomes incapacitated due to illness or injury.

In addition, people should consider drafting a HIPAA power of attorney. Even when people have power under a health care power of attorney, medical professionals may be unwilling to provide important health information to a designated agent due to medical confidentiality laws. If an agent has a HIPAA power of attorney, this can be avoided.

Finally, a durable power of attorney that specifies who will make financial or business decisions on a person’s behalf can be very important. Durable powers of attorney are flexible and can be used for a single transaction or for a broad variety of financial and business needs.

Powers of attorney can help people ensure they have some control over their health care, financial and business needs in the event they become incapacitated. When people are planning how to handle their assets, they may wish to speak with their estate planning attorney about drafting powers of attorney documents.

Source: Forbes, “Three Powers of Attorney Everyone Needs“, Mark Eghrari, November 14, 2014

What is an advance health care directive and do you need one?

Estate planning can include many different documents that will make your wishes known. While many of us have wills in our estate plans, many of us overlook the importance of having an advance health care directive. What exactly is this document and why should you have one?

An advance health care directive, also known as a living will, lets your loved ones and doctor know your wishes for medical treatments. This document can include information on what type of medical care you would like to receive at the end of your life as well as if there are any medical treatments you do not wish to have. This document is vital because you may not be able to let others know your wishes when you become ill.

Even if you have discussed your wishes for medical treatments with your doctor or family, having an advance health care directive is a legal document that will make sure your wishes are honored. This document can address what care you want to receive if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or whenever you receive medical care and something happens where you cannot voice your wishes. 

Many advance health care directives include whether or not you want your organs donated, if you will receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation, what surgical procedures you do or do not want as well as what diagnostic tests to perform and what type of life-sustaining medical care you want and for how long. This can include the use of a ventilator to help you breathe along with other life saving medical procedures.

Your advance health care directive should address if there are any medical treatments you absolutely don’t want along with any other important information your family, loved ones and medical professionals should know. The document can also state if you wish to stay in a hospital, nursing home or at home during this time. 

After creating your advance health care directive, you should be sure to discuss your wishes with your loved ones. You should also give your doctor and other health care providers a copy of the document. This will make sure everyone knows your wishes and there are no surprises. 

End-of-life planning can be very emotional and difficult. However, making these decisions now will make life much easier in the future. 

Source: State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, “Advance Health Care Directive: What’s Important to You,” Accessed June 2, 2014