There may come a time in your life when difficult, albeit necessary decisions concerning your physical health will have to be made. The main problem is that you can never actually prepare for such an event, nor do you want to think about it. But, is it so?
Is there really no way to secure adequate medical treatment in the event you are unable to make such decisions on your own? Well, there is a way, and it’s called an advance healthcare directive in California. Let us see why they are so important and what an advance healthcare directive should include.
Why are advance directives important?
Realizing the importance of advance healthcare directives is at the same time both simple and complicated. Simple because it is rather easy to list all the benefits of having an advance directive in place, and complicated because each individual will have different personal reasons for creating an advance healthcare directive.
So, let’s explain the importance of these legal documents through stating their numerous benefits and listing most common reasons for drafting one.
What are the benefits of advance directives?
First of all, let us begin with how an advance directive can benefit you. Imagining a scenario where you are so incapacitated due to an illness that you are rendered unable to make any decisions regarding the course of your medical treatment is not a pleasant one, but necessary nonetheless.
An advance directive helps you have certain “mechanisms” in place that will help all those involved in the process of your physical or mental wellbeing know your wishes and how to act according to them. This way, even if a time comes when you become unable to voice your desires about the medical treatment, there is a document already listing them, helping the doctors and your family during this difficult time.
Which brings us to our second point of importance, and it concerns your family. If you have an advance directive ready, you are effectively making all the decisions for yourself, even if you are unable to. This saves your family from deciding on your part, but it also means they are able to respect your wishes throughout the often difficult course of the treatment. Family really is the most important thing.
Why should I compose an advance directive?
Well, this question becomes rather self-explanatory considering the benefits it entails, and we are only going to linger on it briefly. Whatever your reasons might be, you can make sure that an advance directive ticks all the important boxes. And, don’t forget – even the California Medical Association advises advance healthcare directives.
If you want to have complete control over the course of your medical treatment even if you’re unable to say so at a specific time, you need an advance directive. If you want to relieve your family of the heavy burden of deciding in your stead, you need an advance healthcare directive. And, if you just one to prepare for any eventuality… Yes, you need it. And, the most commonplace reason of them all – better to have it than not.
Which documents are advance directives?
As you may have guessed it by now, advance directives are documents concerning the actions taken regarding your health if you become unable to specify how you want to be treated yourself.
Also, there are different advance healthcare directive types, and it is up to you to make a decision regarding which type of advance directive you would like, but there are also various aspects each advance directive usually contains.
What are the types of advance directives?
Although the underlying principles of each of the different types of advance directives are similar in terms of the overall effect they have, it is the nuances of their content that create the distinctions. And, it is because of the underlying wishes of the individuals drafting them that there are different directives.
The four main types of these directives, and these include living wills, medical power of attorney, organ donation cards and do not resuscitate orders. Each of these four types has it’s main points of interest, and each type is drafted with a specific purpose in mind.
For example, medical power of attorney is different than a living will, and those differences can make you opt for one kind instead of another. However, let us now turn our attention to what every advance directive usually includes.
What should an advance directive include?
As with all legal documents, and advance directives certainly are legal documents in the state of California, there are items every advance directive should include. Or, rather, a well-written advance directive should include. In order to make sure that you and your family are protected from every possible angle, this is what should be in your directive.
- Resuscitation – Quite simply, whether an individual should or should not be resuscitated in life-threatening scenarios.
- Pain management – This aspect specifies the methods and medicaments that should or should not be applied to manage the pain an individual might be under.
- Use of machines and procedures – What medical machines and what medical procedures an individual wants to be applied.
- Organ donation – Whether or not an individual wants his or her organs donated in case of a lethal turn of events.
- Artificial hydration and nutrition – An individual may not want to be artificially hydrated or given artificial nutrients.
- Pregnancy complication – This aspect defines how the medical staff should proceed in case of complications during pregnancy and labor.
- Preferred treatments – An individual has the ability to state how he or she would want to be treated in case of becoming physically or mentally incapacitated to state so.
It is evident from the above mentioned that an advance directive should be an all-encompassing legal document pertaining to each and every eventuality and individual might face in terms of health. Therefore, always be as specific as possible when drafting an advance healthcare directive.
Are advance directives legally binding?
Among the most common questions when it comes to advance directives is whether they are legally binding or not. While it may depend from state to state, e.g. the law may be slightly different in New York than in California, there are some facts that are the same throughout the country.
To put it briefly, advance directives are not legally binding documents simply because of the fact that they are about health and wellbeing. It is because of that fact that medical workers reserve their right to treat you according to how they see fit, in your best interest, no matter what your advance directive states.
However, these types of documents do carry weight, don’t assume they do not. They provide guidelines for how you want to be treated, and, as such, can prove helpful to doctors working on your case.
Also, you have to be aware that the majority of medical workers are willing to comply to the wishes of their patients, which is why advance healthcare directives exist. And, should the case reach a court of law, the doctor is certain to receive amnesty if an advance directive was in place and he or she was working according to the wishes of the patient.
So, although not legally binding in the normal sense of the word, advance directives do carry a lot of weight in both hospitals and courts of law, which is why every individual should consider making one.
How can I draft the best possible advance healthcare directive?
To answer the last question every person considering an advance directive asks – Do lawyers have to compose an advance healthcare directive in California? The quick answer is no, but the long answer is not so simple.
If you want to be able to blissfully spend your days walking through Balboa Park, not worrying about whether your advance directive is well-written, the best course of action is to consult an experienced lawyer. And are there more experienced lawyers in San Diego than those Irina Sherbak has assembled at her Law Offices of Irina Sherbak?
They are the most experienced among estate and probate law professionals in San Diego, and if anyone can write a good advance directive, it is them. Contact us today, or stop by our offices for a consultation.