You should have an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), because it keeps you in control of your end-of-life medical care. An AHCD —sometimes called a “living will,” “power of attorney for health care,” or “health care proxy”—has two primary purposes. First, an AHCD allows you to appoint a person (called your “agent”) to make health care decisions for you. Second, an AHCD instructs your agent about the type of health care you would like to have. For example, with an AHCD, you can:
- Limit when your agent’s authority becomes effective—immediately, or when you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
- Enable your agent to make post-death decisions for you, like how to dispose of your remains, what kind of memorial you want, whether you want to donate organs or tissue.
- Authorize your agent to prolong your life as long as possible or withdraw treatment according to your wishes.
Without an AHCD in place, troubles may arise if you become incapacitated or disabled to the point that you cannot make health care decisions for yourself. In that case, health care professionals generally look to family members to determine what type of care you would receive. But:
- What if family members are unavailable? With an AHCD in place, your named successor agent steps if your agent is unavailable.
- What if family members don’t agree? With an AHCD in place, your agent is in charge and will act according to your wishes.
- What if family members are overwhelmed by the gravity of the end-of-life choices? With an AHCD in place, your family members are comforted knowing that you have already made the end of life choices.
As you can see, having an AHCD would keep you in control of your end-of-life care and foster certainty and peace of mind for all involved at the end of your life. To get started, I recommend visiting agingwithdignity.org to check out their “Five Wishes” AHCD form. It is a very simple and straight forward form. If the choices on the Five Wishes form do not meet your wishes, then please call me at 707-636-4806 to discuss a detailed attorney drafted form.
David J. Collier practices law in Sonoma County in the areas of Real Estate, Wills, Trusts, and Probate. David is responsible for the content of this advertisement. The information in this article is not legal advice. To obtain legal advice you must discuss your unique circumstances with an attorney.