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What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

In life, a lot of unexpected things can happen, which can affect us physically and mentally. We can be in a serious car accident and sustain a traumatic brain injury. We can be diagnosed with cancer. We can unexpectedly develop a debilitating disease, such as Multiple Sclerosis, or Parkinson’s Disease, or we can develop Alzheimer’s.

Even if you are in excellent health, you’ll age eventually and time will catch up to you. For instance, by the time you’re in your late 70s, 80s, or 90s, you’ll probably need someone to help you pay the bills, drive to medical appointments, and get around. And, what if you were to end up on the hospital one day and unable to make medical decisions for yourself?

Whether you’re 40 or 85-years-old and incapacitated because of a car crash, a sudden heart attack, cancer, or simply advanced age, someone will need to make medical decisions on your behalf. That’s where an Advanced Health Care Directive comes in.

Naming an Agent to Make Decisions for You

Advanced Health Care Directives are important estate planning documents that enable you to give instructions about your health care in case you become incapacitated. With an Advanced Health Care Directive, you can name someone, such as your spouse, your adult child, your adult sibling, or a close friend, to make health care decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to yourself.

Advanced Health Care Directives let you designate a primary care physician. They let you make decisions regarding donating your organs, and they let you name an alternate agent if your first choice is unable or unwilling to help you when the time comes. If you do not limit your agent’s authority, he or she can:

  • Consent or not consent to any treatment, service or procedure on your behalf.
  • Select health care providers.
  • Discharge health care providers.
  • Approve or refuse medication, programs, tests, and surgical procedures.
  • Direct doctors to give or deny you hydration and artificial nutrition.
  • Direct or withhold CPR.
  • Authorize an autopsy.
  • Direct how your remains will be disposed.

Advanced Health Care Directives are for everyone, not just the elderly. Since we never know when something bad can happen to us, it’s important to include Advanced Health Care Directives in our overall estate plan. To learn more, contact us to schedule a consultation with a Rancho Cucamonga estate planning attorney.