Health Care Proxies and Living Wills

If you are incapacitated, someone else must make health care decisions for you. California law defines who can make the decisions if you fail to provide instructions. However, only you know who would be best to make decisions for you, and your comments about medical treatment and life-sustaining measures are important.

Clients are urged to execute an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), naming an agent to make health care decisions and providing some guidance and limits for the agent.

When you complete the AHCD form, you should indicate your specific desires regarding treatment, or any circumstances in which you might want life-sustaining treatment withheld. In addition, you may want to specify who may (or may not) visit you in the hospital, and who will be responsible for funeral or burial arrangements.

A Declaration Pursuant to Natural Death Act (California’s form for a “living will”) may also be appropriate for some clients, but I often find that clients are uncomfortable with the broad scope of this form after they re-read it several times.

Planning for Disability & Incapacity

  • Who should make decisions about your medical treatment?
  • Who should visit you in the hospital?
  • Who will manage your finances?
  • Who should care for your children?
  • Will there be enough money if you are disabled? (including lost income, benefits