An Advance Health Care Directive has two purposes. It is essentially a document that expresses your wishes for end of life care and health care decisions if you are incapacitated. First, it tells both your caretakers and the doctors what your wishes are as far as medical treatment, resuscitation, and whether or not you want the use of life support if you have no mental activity. Second, it chooses who you want to make medical decisions on your behalf that are consistent with your other directives.

These are extremely personal decisions, and you should take some time to think about what you really want and who you trust to make decisions of this serious nature for you.

Having a directive is very important because it eliminates family conflict in an extremely stressful time. Family members can all have your best interest in mind, but nonetheless disagree completely on what you would have wanted done. You may think you have clearly expressed your wishes, but in general people tend to “talk around” these issues and different people can come away with totally different opinions about what you said or expressed to them and there can be a very heated conflict because both parties (often two children) both believe they are trying to follow your wishes. The directive gives instructions, and chooses who will make those decisions. It leaves a clear path to follow that is your actual, expressed wishes. They can be changed or revoked if needed (and should be, in the case of a divorce, when your ex-spouse is the person you chose to make decisions for you) so you are not locked in to your choices should your mind change later on.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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