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Bay Area Advance Health Care Directive Attorney

Bay Area healthcare power of attorney lawyer

Lawyer For Creating Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney in San Francisco County

While you may not want to think about it, there is always a possibility that an accident or medical event could leave you unable to express what you want to happen regarding your health care. If this were to happen, you would want to have a plan in place to ensure that you receive medical care and treatment according to your wishes. Fortunately, you have a legal means of doing so in the form of an advance health care directive.

At the Law Office of Martin Alperen, we help our clients plan for their health care, management of assets, and other estate planning needs. We know there is a common tendency to put off estate planning, so we strive to bring our services to you whenever and wherever you choose to make the process as easy and convenient as possible.

What Does a San Francisco Advance Health Care Directive Include?

In California, an advance health care directive typically consists of two major components: individual health care instructions and a health care power of attorney.

Individual health care instructions are often referred to as a living will. Unlike your last will and testament, which focuses on the distribution of your assets after your death, a living will focuses on the medical care and treatment you do or do not want to receive in the event you become incapacitated. You may include instructions regarding surgery, medication, and comfort care, as well as measures to prolong your life, including resuscitation, ventilation, intravenous or tube feeding, and dialysis. In the event that you die before regaining mental capacity, you can also clarify your preferences regarding organ donation and autopsy.

Note that you can also establish a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order or a Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) providing specific instructions to a health care provider, but you will need to create these separately from your advanced health care directive.

A health care power of attorney authorizes a trusted person, known as your agent or attorney-in-fact, to make decisions regarding your medical treatment. Unlike other powers of attorney in California, a health care power of attorney only takes effect during the period of your incapacitation, unless you wish to specify otherwise. While you are incapacitated, your attorney-in-fact can access your medical records and make decisions on your behalf. He or she should refer to your living will first, but may need to use his or her judgment on matters you have not specifically addressed. If you recover and regain mental capacity, the power of attorney ends, and you have the ability to make decisions on your own.

Requirements for Establishing an Advanced Health Care Directive

As with other powers of attorney in California, in order to ensure that your advanced health care directive is legally valid, it must be in writing, signed by you, dated, and acknowledged by a notary or signed by at least two witnesses. However, if you choose to use witnesses there are more stringent limitations on who is eligible. For example:

  • Neither witness can be your health care provider or any of their employees.
  • Neither witness can be the operator or employee of a community care facility or a residential care facility for the elderly.
  • Neither witness can be the attorney-in-fact designated in the health care power of attorney.
  • At least one witness must be someone without a blood, marriage, or adoption relationship to you, or beneficiary status in your will.
  • If you are a patient at a skilled nursing facility when you execute the directive, a patient advocate or ombudsman must act as a witness even if you also use a notary.

Contact a Bay Area Estate Planning Lawyer

When you work with us, we can provide legal advice on the contents of your advanced health care directive, help you identify eligible witnesses or provide notary services, and ensure that your directive is legally valid. Contact us today at 415-534-1200 to schedule a free, convenient consultation. We are happy to help clients in San Francisco County, Alameda County, Marin County, and San Mateo County, including in the East Bay and North Bay, the Peninsula, Berkeley, Oakland, and the surrounding areas.

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