Estate Planning

Advance Health Care Directives (Living Wills)

 

What is an advance health care directive?

An advance health care directive is a document that provides for direction of preferred treatment and provides for appointment of an agent to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal.

 

Is an advance health care directive the same as a living will?

An advance health care directive is a more comprehensive document than a living will. Like a living will, it states your preferences about life-prolonging medical treatments and procedures, however, an advance health care directive also provides for the appointment of an agent to make health care decisions for you. A person who does not want to appoint an agent to make health care decisions may still indicate end-of-life preferences in a written directive that is signed and witnessed.

 

What is a POLST form?

A form called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) provides specific directions to doctors and hospitals regarding a patient’s wishes for end-of-life care. It must be signed by a physician and the individual or the individual’s representative. Established in 2008 as a legally recognized “request regarding resuscitation,” the California POLST Form was approved by the statewide POLST Task Force and the Emergency Medical Services Authority, in cooperation with the California Coalition for Compassionate Care.