No one expects to become incapacitated, but it happens either due to age, accident or illness. When it does, having a clear plan in place for how one wants to be medically treated can help prevent issues among family members and health care providers. For this reason, California residents may want to consider including health care directives in their estate plans.
What are health care directives? These are legal documents in which one is able to name a personal representative who will manage his or her medical care and provide detailed information about what treatments he or she deems acceptable. Basically, they give a voice to someone who is no longer able to communicate. These are particularly handy to have in the event of an emergency.
In order for health care directives to be considered valid, the state of California requires that they be signed with at least two witnesses present. Notarization may also be required. If a health care directive is deemed valid, it cannot become effective until a doctor or doctors certify that one is indeed unable to make medical decisions for him or herself.
While having health care directives is not a requirement in this life, having these legal documents in place certainly will not hurt anyone. In fact, by making medical decisions and assigning a personal representative now, a lot of pressure can be removed from family members should one experience incapacitation. An experienced attorney will be able to provide further information on this topic and can assist California residents in creating plans that will ensure all desired protections are put in place if or when they are needed.
Source: FindLaw, "What are Advance Directives?", Accessed on March 29, 2017