Advance directives are legal documents and tools that outline your wishes concerning the long-term medical care, particularly at the end of your life. These tools are especially useful in the following situations:
- You cannot make your own medical decisions
- You are in a state of terminal illness or incapacitation
- You meet certain other requirements as outlined in state law
One of the most important examples of an advance directive is a medical power of attorney. Through this mechanism, you appoint a person who serves as your healthcare agent and makes certain medical decisions on your behalf according to your wishes.
Specific rules may apply to life-sustaining medical treatments. For example, before your chosen health care agent can refuse life-sustaining treatments, your directive may require that another physician confirm the primary doctor’s assessment that you can no longer make decisions regarding your treatment.
Important information to know when creating advance directives
Below are some key points you should be aware of before you create advance directives for your future medical care:
- Emergency scenarios: Although most medical professionals must abide by your wishes as outlined in your advance directives, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) cannot honor all your requests due to the nature of their jobs. EMTs must do whatever they can to stabilize a patient for hospital transfer and generally do not inquire about any advance directives or medical wishes.
- State differences: While advance directives are valid throughout the country, not all elements of individual advance directive plans will work in every state. Some states honor all advance directives from another state, while others only if they are like the laws of the state. If you spend considerable time in more than one state, your best option is to create a set of unique advance directives for each state.
- Expiration: Advance directives do not expire. They will remain in effect until you change them. If you complete new advance directives, they will usually invalidate the previous orders.
Advance directives protect your future and ensure your loved ones have all the information they need to make sound decisions on your behalf. To learn more about this aspect of estate planning, meet with an experienced attorney.
Schedule Your Consultation with Our Experienced California Estate Planning Attorneys
Bartlett & Herrington, P.C. is a top estate planning law firm in California. Our attorneys help families set up living trusts, wills, power of attorneys, healthcare directives in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Montecito.
Schedule a planning session with our experienced attorneys today to learn how we can help you and your family: (805) 576-7693.