Advanced Health Care Directive for San Diego, California residents

An Advanced Health Care Directive is a useful set of documents that lets your physician, family and friends know your health care preferences, including the types of special treatment you want or don’t want at the end of life, your desire for diagnostic testing, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation.

By considering your options early, you can ensure the quality of life that is important to you and avoid having your family “guess” your wishes or having to make critical medical care decisions for you under stress or in emotional turmoil.

If you seek to make an Advanced Health Care Directive in San Diego, call us at 858-208-8900 to speak with an attorney. We offer free 30-minute consultation and a quick turn around for expedited requests. The Law Offices of Irina Sherbak are here to help you. Remember that we are uniquely qualified to serve clients who speak Russian!

Advance Health Care Directive California – Checklist

The material prepared for this checklist is intended as informational only and not as legal advice. “If you are unsure of your options or have questions, we suggest that you contact us for a free consultation.”


Your physician is a good place to start for understanding your options on health care treatment at the end of life.


Talk about your decisions with your family, physician and others who are close to you. Some questions to consider for discussion:

    • What is important to you when you are dying?
    • Are there specific medical treatments you especially want or do not want?
    • When you are dying, do you want to be in a nursing home, hospital or at home?
    • What are the options in Palliative Care/Pain Management and Hospice Care?

Under state law, you have a legal right to express your health care wishes and to have them considered in situations when you are unable to make these decisions yourself. California consolidated various earlier forms used to indicate health care preferences into one Advance Care Directive. All valid health care directives executed before July 1, 2000 can remain in effect under California Probate Code section 4701. Earlier forms included Natural Death Act Declaration, Directive to Physicians and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

While state law requires certain provisions to appear in your health care directive, there is no single form in use to document your wishes.


Select who should handle your health care choices and discuss the matter with them. You could name a spouse, relative or other agent. However, you CANNOT name your physician, nurse, or anyone employed at your hospital or nursing home unless they are also a family member.


Notify your doctor, family and close friends about your end-of-life preferences. Keep a copy of your signed and completed advance health care directive safe and accessible. This will help ensure that your wishes will be known at the critical time and carried out. Give a copy of your form to:

    • The person you appoint as your agent and any alternate designated agents
    • Your physician
    • Your health care providers
    • The health care institution that is providing your care
    • Family members
    • Other responsible person who is likely to be called if there is a medical emergency

What should be included in an advance directive?

Advance health care directive gives instructions as to what you want regarding medical care at the end of your life or if you become incapacitated. There are a few types of advance health care directives which we will discuss below. With a correctly filled out and composed advance health care directive, you can specify your wishes regarding, for example:

  • Resuscitation
  • Pain management
  • Application of certain procedures and machines, such as dialysis, transfusion and ventilators
  • Organ donation
  • Artificial nutrition and hydration
  • Pregnancy complications
  • What kind of treatments and procedures you wouldn’t like to undergo if you were unable to speak for yourself

Your advance health care directive should reflect your wishes, but on your own you may oversee some considerations. A seasoned lawyer from The Law Offices of Irina Sherbak would be happy to help you and present you all the options. Call us at 858-208-8900 and book your FREE 30-minute consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer who has worked with countless San Diego residents on their advance health care directives.

What are the types of advance health care directives?

Types of advance health care directive in California are: power of attorney for healthcare, living will, do not resuscitate order and organ donation card.   

What is the difference between advance directive and a living will?

Is an advance directive same as a living will? No. Advance directive denotes a document, or set of documents, that voice your wishes about health care treatment in situations when you cannot speak for yourself. A living will allows you to specify your deathbed preferences. Advance health care directive is a broader term than a living will.

Living will vs. DNR

DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. It is an order that instructs health care providers not to give you CPR if you stop breathing or if your heart stops beating. This order concerns only this one situation. And it is noted on your medical chart.

A living will allows you to specify whether you would want to be kept alive artificially. For example, some people do not wish to be given food and liquids through tubes at the end of life. A living will can also give instructions about pain management, certain procedures and organ donation.

Advance health care directive vs. power of attorney

Advance health care directive is a document that voices your wishes about health care treatment if you’re not able to speak for yourself. There are two main types of advance health care directives: a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will. So, the term “advance health care directive” is more general than a “medical power of attorney”. Advance health care directive is an umbrella term for a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. Having both a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will allows you to make maximum provisions in case you are not able to express your wishes regarding the medical treatment you receive.

Remember that by booking your free, no-obligation consultation with The Law Offices of Irina Sherbak, you get an opportunity to get answers to your questions in person. Moreover, you will get accurate information pertinent to your situation and in line with the California probate code. When you read about this online, you miss on the valuable in-person interaction with a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional. Call us t 858-208-8900!

Can I see an example of a person’s advance care directive?

We understand that discussing legal documents such as advance health care directive is much easier when you see an example. The Internet is full of search results for “advance directive examples”, “California advance healthcare directive fillable pdf” and so on. Whereas there is some merit to looking at online examples and advance directive templates, we find it is much more prudent to write your advance health care directive with an experienced San Diego estate lawyer (if you live in San Diego).

Do I need a lawyer to write an advance health care directive?

No, you are not required to work with a lawyer to make your advance health care directive, but there are many benefits in deciding to have an experienced lawyer assist you with your AHCD.

  • You get accurate & relevant answers to all your questions
  • You get answers that pertain exactly to your situation
  • Your lawyer can present you options and considerations that you may not be aware of
  • You can be confident that your AHCD is up to date & adheres to the California probate code

If you chose to download a fillable advance directive form from the Internet, you wouldn’t have the guidance and confidence that your AHCD will work when you need it.  

If I have no advance directive – what happens?

You will receive medical care regardless of whether you have an advance health care directive or not. But, if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate your wishes, having an AHCD in place makes it far more likely that you will receive the kind of treatment you would want for yourself. When doctors have incapacitated patients without an AHCD or a guardian, they generally turn to family, friends and even patient’s clergy for decisions about your care. Not having an AHCD and not being able to give informed consent about your medical treatment accounts for a lot of delay, mental and emotional stress on your loved ones and maybe even financial expense that you wouldn’t want your loved ones to incur.

Be proactive and take steps to ensure your loved ones will be protected from any unnecessary emotional burden at the end of your life. We would gladly address your situation in a FREE, 30-minute consultation which you can schedule at 858-208-8900.

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