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Visalia, CA Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Understanding Advance Health Care Directives

A Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney? Or Do I Need Both?

If you find yourself asking this question, or even wondering "What exactly are advance health care directives?" Don't worry; many people are confused by these two important estate planning documents. However, it’s important to understand the functions of each and ensure you are fully protected by incorporating both of these documents into your overall estate plan.

A “Living Will,” (sometimes called an advance health care directive), is a legal document setting forth your wishes for end-of-life medical care, in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself. The safest way to ensure that your own wishes will determine your future medical care is to execute a Living Will stating what your wishes are. In some states, the Living Will is only operative if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition and life-sustaining treatment merely artificially prolongs the process of dying, or if you are in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

A durable power of attorney for health care, also referred to as a healthcare proxy, is a document in which you name another person to serve as your health care agent. This person is authorized to speak on your behalf in order to consent to – or refuse – medical treatment if your doctor determines that you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. A durable power of attorney for health care can be operative at any time you designate, not just when your condition is terminal.

For maximum protection, it is strongly recommended that you have both a Living Will and a durable power of attorney for health care. The power of attorney affords you flexibility, with an agent who can express your wishes and respond accordingly to any changes in your medical condition. Your agent should base his or her decisions on any written wishes you have provided, as well as familiarity with you. 

But whether or not you decide to prepare both documents, your Living Will is absolutely necessary to guide health care providers in the event your agent is unavailable. If your agent’s decisions are ever challenged, the Living Will can also serve as evidence that your agent is acting in good faith and in accordance with your wishes. 

Your Living Will is essential -a document no one should be without. That's why for the month of February, our office is offering an attorney-drafted Living Will FREE OF CHARGE, so that you can rest assured that your wishes will be protected, no matter what. 


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Located in Visalia CA, Joan A. Watters, Esq. Attorney at Law assists clients throughout the Central Valley of California with various estate planning and elder law. Areas include but are not limited to Visalia, Exeter, Tulare, Hanford, Bakersfield, Lemoore, Three Rivers; and the surrounding counties of Tulare, Kings, and Kern.



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220 South Mooney Blvd., B, Visalia, CA 93291
| Phone: 559-635-1775 | 800-403-5029

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