Advance Directive (also known as a “Living Will”) is a document that you prepare
in case you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to a medical
condition. Its purpose is to very clearly state how you want your doctors
to proceed with important, and sometimes difficult, decisions about how
much life-saving effort to exert.
California law allows you to choose another person to make healthcare
decisions for you if, for any reason, you are unable to speak for yourself.
This person will have legal authority to make decisions about your medical
care if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make decisions for
yourself. In the “Individual Health Care Instruction” section
you can indicate your wishes. Your agent must follow these instructions
and honor any other wishes you have made known.
It is important to remember that the person you appoint as your agent
has no authority to make decisions for you until you are unable to make
those decisions yourself. It is not necessary to appoint an agent to complete
an Advance Directive. Any California resident who is at least 18 years
old, of sound mind and acting of his/her own free will can complete a
valid Advanced Directive. A lawyer is not needed for a standard printed
Advanced Directive form to be legally valid. The form must be properly
signed, dated and either notarized or witnessed by two qualified individuals.
An Advance Directive is valid for an indefinite period of time, unless
otherwise stated on the document. Also, you can revoke or change the document
at any time.
For an Advance Directive form, additional information and assistance,
click here or call social services at (619) 229-4621.