California residents who are thinking about estate planning will likely be instructed to create an advance directive. There are two main types that include the medical power of attorney and the living will. Understanding how to write one of these directives can help to ensure that it’s properly followed if you’re unable to make decisions about your health in the future.
A living will
A living will is a common legal document constructed during the estate planning process. This states your future health care decisions in the event that you’re unable to relay those decisions yourself. The living will is typically an end of life document instructing medical professionals on your final wishes. It can describe the types of medical treatments you would like to attempt or the types that you do not want to receive.
Medical power of attorney
Also known as a durable power of attorney, this legal document is used to place a specific person or persons in charge of your medical decisions if you’re unable to do so. This person is referred to as a proxy. Once a doctor determines that you’re physically unable to make your own health-related decisions, then your agent makes all the decisions about your health.
Since your agent will be working on your behalf, it’s important that you take the time to discuss your wishes with them. In the event that you regain the ability to make your own medical decisions, they are no longer able to do so on your behalf. Determining when you’re able to start to make your medical decisions again is dependent on what your treating physician determines.
Advanced directives are a great way to help ensure that your medical wishes are followed in the event that you become ill. You should consider adding a living will or a medical power of attorney to your estate planning documents. It’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer about your advanced directives as they must conform to state law.