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Advance Directive for Health Care

The Advance Directive for Health Care is a legal document that allows individuals to make their healthcare preferences known and appoint a healthcare representative to make medical decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so. It is an important component of advance care planning, ensuring that your medical treatment aligns with your values and wishes. Here are key points about the Advance Directive for Health Care as seen from the perspective of a Folsom lawyer who specializes in estate planning:

  1. Purpose: The primary purpose of the Advance Directive for Health Care is to provide guidance to healthcare providers and family members when making medical decisions for individuals who are unable to communicate their wishes due to illness, injury, or incapacity.
  2. Key Components: The document typically consists of two main parts. The first part is the appointment of a Healthcare Representative. In this section, you can designate a trusted individual to serve as your healthcare representative. This person is authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. You can specify the powers and limitations of your healthcare representative. The second part is the instructions for healthcare. In this section, you can provide specific instructions about your medical treatment preferences. This can include decisions about life-sustaining treatments, organ donation, pain management, and other medical procedures. You can also express your wishes regarding artificial nutrition and hydration.
  3. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): The Advance Directive for Health Care may also include the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. The POLST form is a medical order that provides specific instructions about your preferences for life-sustaining treatments, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and intubation. It is typically used by healthcare providers in emergency and end-of-life situations.
  4. Requirements and Execution: To create a valid Advance Directive for Health Care, there are two requirements. First, the document must be in writing. It must be signed by you (the principal) or someone you authorize to sign on your behalf. Second, the document should be witnessed by two adults. One of the witnesses cannot be related to you in any way or be a beneficiary of your estate.
  5. Revocation and Update: You can revoke or update your Advance Directive for Health Care at any time, as long as you have the capacity to do so. It’s important to communicate any changes to your healthcare representative and healthcare providers.
  6. Filing and Sharing: While it’s not required by law to file your advance directive with the state, it’s advisable to provide copies to your healthcare representative, family members, and healthcare providers. You should also keep a copy in your medical records. This ensures that your wishes are readily accessible in case of a medical emergency.
  7. Benefits: Creating an Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to have a say in your medical treatment even if you cannot communicate your preferences. It helps alleviate the burden of decision-making for loved ones during difficult times and ensures that your values and wishes are respected.


It’s important to review and, if necessary, update your Advance Directive for Health Care periodically to ensure that it reflects your current healthcare preferences. Additionally, discussing your wishes with your healthcare representative and family members can help clarify your intentions and provide guidance in challenging medical situations. Consulting with a Folsom estate planning lawyer and healthcare professional experienced in elder care can be invaluable in creating a comprehensive and legally sound document. If you have any questions about estate planning or advance directives, please feel free to send us a message or call us. 

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