Can’t I just make medical and financial decisions for my spouse anyway?

For many people who have found themselves in a situation where they have needed to make health care (including financial) decisions for a spouse who may have become incapacitated, legal difficulties were not a problem; usually, health care providers have consulted with the next-of-kin for healthcare decisions. However, when potential disagreements with and/or objections from other family members arise about health care treatment for a loved one who cannot make decisions on her or his own, the situation can become problematic very quickly. Other situations can also occur when the directives of the patient cannot be adequately addressed because of missing information or misinformation.

That’s why an Advance Health Care Directive is so important.

In California, the Advance Health Care Directive has replaced the health care power of attorney (or, as it was officially known, the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) which expands the legal scope of patients. An Advance Health Care Directive permits you not only to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot but also allows you to give specific instructions about your health care wishes and desires.

If you already have someone designated in writing as your health care power of attorney, you do not need to complete a new Advance Health Care Directive. However, if you named a health care power of attorney prior to 1992, you should revise your request by completing a new Advance Health Care Directive.

If you have previously selected someone to act as your healthcare advocate, or if you complete an Advance Health Care Directive, it’s important to have all forms dated, signed by you, and either notarized or witnessed by two qualified individuals. Copies of these documents should then be given to your attorney, the person named as your health care power of attorney (or named in the Advance Health Care Directive), your doctor, and your health care plan administrator.

To fully protect yourself and your health care wishes (along with other estate planning needs), it’s important to obtain legal advice. Call Louis Pacella, Attorney-at-Law, today to schedule an initial consultation at 818-616-8827.