As an adult, you’re in control of your life, your decisions, and your health. But what happens if you can’t communicate your preferences due to unforeseen circumstances?
With an advance directive, you don’t have to leave anything open to speculation. An advance directive speaks for you when you can’t speak for yourself. It’s a legal document that explicitly outlines your healthcare wishes, so you receive the care you want even if you can’t articulate your thoughts.
But creating an advance directive isn’t a task you should tackle alone. The intricacies of California law and the profoundly personal nature of the decisions you will communicate mean professional guidance is essential. Engaging the help of an attorney can make all the difference.
We at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP offer years of experience, personalized attention, and a commitment to your unique needs. Our lawyers don’t just provide legal services; we work with you side-by-side to catalog your wishes and develop customized legal solutions that reflect them clearly.
Ready to take control of your future? Contact The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP today to speak with our Bakersfield advance directives attorney.
What Is an Advance Directive?
Imagine a situation where you were seriously ill, unconscious, or nearing the end of your life. It’s uncomfortable to think about, but countless families experience this reality daily. Would your loved ones know what to do if you could not communicate or make decisions for yourself?
This is where an advance directive comes in. An advance directive is a legal document describing the types of health care services you’d want to receive or reject if you cannot express these preferences yourself. It lets you plainly state your medical and end-of-life care wishes in advance. So, even if you can’t speak for yourself, you can still make your voice heard, and your loved ones won’t have to guess or make difficult decisions on your behalf.
Creating an advance directive might seem daunting, but it’s integral to any healthy estate plan. It gives you control over your life care planning and medical future, provides clarity to your doctors, and offers comfort to those who care about you.
What Are the Two Types of Advance Directives?
There are two main types of advance directives: advance health care directives and durable powers of attorney.
An advance health care directive is a written document that details the types of medical care you would or wouldn’t want to receive if you couldn’t express your wishes. Living wills often describe preferences regarding life-sustaining measures like mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, or resuscitation.
By documenting your wishes in an advance health care directive, you provide a guide for your doctors and loved ones in specific healthcare scenarios, particularly when recovery is uncertain. This can alleviate some of the burdens associated with medical decision-making in stressful circumstances.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy is a document authorizing another person to make medical decisions for you if you can’t do so yourself.
This person can be a relative, a friend, or anyone you trust to look after your health. Your choice of health care proxy is critical, as they have permission to interpret your wishes and make decisions in situations not addressed in your living will.
Both documents aim to codify your medical wishes, but advance health care directives detail specific treatment preferences, while durable powers of attorney designate trusted individuals to make health care decisions for you.
Things to Consider When Preparing an Advance Directive
When preparing an advance health care directive, there are several factors you should take into consideration. These include:
- Your Health Care Preferences – This is the heart of your advance directive. Consider the types of care you would or wouldn’t want in various situations, such as in the event of a coma, a terminal illness, or severe dementia. This could include your preferences regarding resuscitation, artificial feeding, palliative care, and more.
- Your Choice of Health Care Proxy – If you choose to establish a durable power of attorney for health care, you’ll need to select a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. This person should understand your wishes thoroughly and be willing to carry them out precisely, even if they are difficult or contentious decisions.
- Other Relevant Values and Wishes – Think about other health and end-of-life preferences regarding topics like organ donation, mental health care, placement in long-term care facilities, and experimental treatments. If your spiritual or religious beliefs influence your views on medical treatment, you might want to document these, too.
Your views about end-of-life care might change over time due to various circumstances, so it’s essential to review your advance directive regularly and make updates as necessary. An experienced lawyer can guide you through this process and ensure your advance directive communicates your wishes clearly.
What Are the Duties of the Healthcare Representative in an Advance Directive?
Selecting a healthcare proxy is a significant decision, as this person effectively becomes your voice when you can’t speak for yourself. It’s essential to choose someone who can:
- Understand Your Wishes – Your proxy should be intimately familiar with your healthcare preferences, values, and wishes, as detailed in your advance directive. This includes understanding under what circumstances you would want or not want specific treatments, procedures, or interventions.
- Make Decisions Based on Your Wishes – When you cannot communicate or make decisions, your proxy is responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf. They should make these decisions based on your documented wishes or their best understanding of your preferences.
- Advocate for Your Wishes – Your proxy might need to communicate with your healthcare providers or family members to ensure your wishes are respected. This might involve challenging others’ decisions or suggesting alternatives that align with your desires.
- Stay Informed About Your Condition and Treatment Options – Your proxy should stay up-to-date with your medical condition and treatment options. They might need to question doctors, request further information, or seek second opinions to make informed decisions.
Disputes Related to an Advance Directive
The following are examples of common disputes that can arise surrounding the creation or interpretation of advance healthcare directives:
- Disagreements over the selection of healthcare proxy
- Conflicts between healthcare proxies and family members regarding medical decisions
- Ambiguity in the wording of the directive leads to differing interpretations
- Questions regarding the directive’s validity (such as whether it adequately witnessed)
- Disputes over whether the patient was competent at the time when they made the directive
- Conflicts regarding whether the directive’s conditions for activation have been met
- Differing opinions between health care teams and families or proxies about the patient’s wishes
- Disagreements about whether a directive accounts for a specific medical situation
- Differences of opinion on whether life-sustaining treatments should start or discontinue
- Disputes over interpretations of terms like “terminal illness” or “permanent unconsciousness”
- Concerns about the directive having been influenced by outside pressure or coercion
- Disagreements between multiple proxies if a document identifies more than one
- Conflicts about the application of the directive following sudden, unexpected medical events
- Disputes over changes to the directive if the patient’s wishes appear to have changed over time
- Legal challenges related to the recognition of the directive across different states
How Our California Healthcare Directive Attorney Can Help You
When contemplating your estate plan, you might wonder, “Do I really need an advance directive attorney?” The answer is a resounding “yes.” Here’s why.
Advance directive documents like living wills and powers of attorney are integral to any comprehensive estate plan. They can express your wishes if you cannot articulate them or make new medical decisions yourself. However, establishing an effective, personalized advance directive for health care can be challenging without the help of a knowledgeable professional.
Engaging a local attorney like The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can prevent costly and emotional mistakes. Our team has extensive experience and a deep understanding of California law. We can prepare an advance directive that meets all legal requirements and reflects your intentions. Our client-first approach ensures personalized attention throughout the process.
Our attorneys aren’t just experienced. We’re committed to achieving meaningful results for our clients. Each of us dedicates time to understanding your unique situation and advises you on how to protect your health and estate. The firm’s rich legacy dating back to 1939 stands as a testament to its enduring commitment to quality legal service.
By choosing The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP, you’re not just hiring a lawyer. You’re aligning yourself with a team dedicated to your well-being and peace of mind. Remember, your healthcare decisions matter. Trust us to handle your case with the compassion and diligence you deserve.
Contact Our California Advance Directives Lawyer Today
Don’t leave your future to chance. Take control now and protect your health and peace of mind with an advance directive. The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP team can provide the guidance and support you need as you take this vital step in your estate planning journey.
Start the conversation today. Contact The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP to set up a consultation session with a Bakersfield advance directives attorney.