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Advance Health Care Directive- Your Living Will
Advance Health Care Directive
Your Living Will
by Twinkle VanFleet
At some point in our lives we consider our future, old age, disabilities, or simply end of
life choices. Who makes important decisions on our behalf if we become incapacitated
and unable to make crucial decisions for ourselves? Most of us have heard of or are
familiar with a Living Will or a Power of Attorney. What many of you didn't know is that
an Advanced Health Care Directive replaces a Living Will and Durable Power of
Attorney (or "DPAHC") as the legally recognized document for appointing a health care
agent in California. An Advance Health Care Directive allows you to not only appoint
an agent to make heath care decisions on your behalf, but also lets you give instructions
in regards to your own health care in your own words and writing. You do not need not
a lawyer to help you complete the form. There is one exception and it applies to those
who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility who wish to appoint
their conservator as their agent. The California Medical Association (CMA)
recommends that you choose only one person as your health care agent. If two or more
people are given equal authority and they disagree, it defeats the purpose of the
Directive. If you become unable to make your own health care decisions, your chosen
agent will have total authority to speak on your behalf in all matters as it pertains to your
health. Your doctors and other professionals will look to your appointed agent for
decisions rather than your family or any other person. Your agent will be allowed to
accept or decline further treatment, choose whether or not to donate your organs, or
allow for an autopsy, have access to your medical records and decide where to dispose
of your body should you die. You do not have to give your agent these rights, or specific
powers, you can write a statement in your Advance Heath Care Directive form limiting
authority. The law also states that your agent cannot authorize convulsive treatment
(electro convulsive therapy or ECT), psycho surgery, sterilization, abortion, or place you
in a mental health treatment facility. Your agent has no authority to make decisions for
you unless you are unable to make the choices yourself. You can though choose to allow
your agent immediate decision making, even if you can make them for yourself.
It is important that you give a copy of your Advance Health Care Directive to your
family and even close friends. This is so that everyone is aware prior to you ever
becoming incapacitated that you, while in your right mind, made the choice to appoint a
certain individual as your agent. This is suppose to help the arguments that often arise
when one falls ill suddenly. Everyone wants to make the decisions and everyone quarrels
over what they think you would want. The Directive is also meant to keep this from
You may now register your Advance Health Care Directive at the Advance Health Care
(Statutes of 2005, Chapter 434)
This act creates the Advance Directives and Terminal Illness Decisions Program. This
act requires the Secretary of State to work with the Department of Health Services and
the Attorney General to develop information about end of life care, advance health care
directives, and registration of the advance health care directives at the Advance Health
Care Directive Registry. This act also requires links to be provided for this information
on the websites of the Secretary of State, Department of Health Services, the Attorney
General, Department of Managed Health Care, Department of Insurance, Board of
Registered Nursing, and the Medical Board of California.
The following has been taken from the website of the Secretary of State and I've listed
the reference below.
(Statutes of 2004, Chapter 882)
This measure requires the Secretary of State, as part of the duties associated with the
Advance Health Care Directive Registry, to receive and release a person's advance
health care directive and transmit the information to the registry of another jurisdiction
upon request. It requires the Secretary of State to respond by the close of business on
the next business day to a request for information received from the emergency
department of a general acute care hospital.
A copy of the form is available here. http://www.pamf.org/preventive/ahcd.html
PAMF_AdvanceDirective.pdf I urge you to get a copy. It's one of the most important
documents you could ever have. The best part is you actually get an area to write your
wishes down as you want them. You can add what you don't want and what you do
want in specifics. You need to have it notorized or witnessed by two seperate
individuals. Notorizing it is best and saves on the headache of some thinking it was made
up only moments after you became ill. You never know what some family members
might say when finding someone else has authority over you.
After you complete the form and have it notorized, you need to give it to your physician
to be placed in your medical record. You should always take a copy when going into
surgery, as well.
Everyone should have one of these. In the end, the choices are still yours this way, but
someone else is making them on your behalf. It may not save your life, but it will certainly
save heartache for all involved.
© 2006-2010 - Twinkle VanFleet All Rights Reserved.
May be used by permission and with credit to source.
If you use this article, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know the
website address in which you are using it. Thank you.
(This article was published by The Independent Opinion in 2007)
True happiness is not gained through
self-gratification, but through fidelity
to a worthy purpose. ~Helen Keller
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