What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?

Generally, an Advance Healthcare Directive is a document that can be created to “direct” the type of healthcare a person wants and does not want in the event that the person loses the capacity to make healthcare decisions.

An Advance Healthcare Directive is sometimes referred to as a living will, a personal directive, an advance decision, an advance directive, or a medical directive.

In most cases, doctors present various healthcare choices to their patients. For example, you can decide if you want to have a particular procedure or not. An Advance Healthcare Directive becomes useful when a person is not able to make decisions due to a lack of capacity to make decisions.

Without an Advance Healthcare Directive, if a person becomes incapacitated and thereby unable to make healthcare decisions, doctors will typically look to family members to make difficult decisions about a person’s healthcare.

Using an Advance Healthcare Directive, a person can decide in advance what types of treatment and life support procedures are wanted and not wanted if the person is incapacitated. Here, a person may decide to include specific directions in an Advance Healthcare Directive for financial, insurance, for personal reasons, or to relieve family members from making difficult healthcare decisions in the event the person is incapacitated.

Another option with an Advance Healthcare Directive can be to appoint a specific person, and agent, that will make healthcare decisions in the event of incapacity.

Upon completing an Advance Healthcare Directive, copies should be given to any agents, family members, and current doctors. Your original copy of the document can be stored with other important papers. Those interested in an Advance Healthcare Directive should consult with a local, qualified, and experienced lawyer, as there are many options and drafting consideration in an Advance Healthcare Directive. To find the right lawyer to help with an Advance Healthcare Directive, contact SmartLaw.

Serving Southern California counties, SmartLaw is the best way to find the right qualified legal resource. SmartLaw is certified by the State Bar of California and the American Bar Association. SmartLaw is a public service of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

The materials and information available on this website are for informational purposes only. The materials and information available on this website are not for the purpose of providing legal advice and should not be relied upon or used in place of legal advice from an attorney. You should contact an attorney to receive advice with respect to any particular issue or problem you may have. For free assistance finding the right legal resource, contact SmartLaw by calling (866)SMARTLAW or by visiting us at SmartLaw.org.