When working on your estate plan, you may hear the terms “power of attorney” and “health care directive”. These two terms mean slightly different things, and you should be familiar with both to help you make important estate planning decisions.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legally binding document in which you give permission for another person, called an agent, to make certain decisions and take certain actions on your behalf. For example, you could create a power of attorney that allows your friend to pay your bills and make urgent financial decisions while you are out of the country for six months.
In the healthcare context, you can create a durable power of attorney for healthcare. “Durable” means that the power of attorney will be effective even if you are incapacitated. Typically, powers of attorney are not effective when the person making them is incapacitated.
In the durable power of attorney for healthcare, you can specify when it will go into effect – for example, it will go into effect if you are admitted to hospice care, or if you are otherwise incapacitated. Your agent then can make healthcare decisions for you because you cannot.
Health Care Directive
California law allows people to create advanced health care directives. These documents combine a durable power of attorney for healthcare with a living will. A living will specifies which types of medical treatment you would like to receive or not receive. You can indicate whether you want treatment to be withheld or withdrawn at a certain point as well. The advance healthcare directive can include your wishes regarding organ donation, anatomical gifts, autopsy, and funeral or cremation.
Advance health care directives give people a simple way to summarize their healthcare, medical, and end-of-life wishes in one document. They provide peace of mind that a particular person will be able to make decisions for you in a medical emergency. These directives may be especially helpful for people who do not have a spouse or close relatives, for people estranged from their family, or for people who have very specific health-related wishes.
Would you like to set up an advance healthcare directive and other estate planning? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call Angela’s office at (424) 400-2125.