Health Care Directive

This legal document (often called a durable power of attorney for health care) lets you decide who can oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you, when you are unable to do so. That trusted person is often called your health care agent. You can specify exactly what kinds of health care and medical treatments you want performed in the event you are incapacitated.

Your health care agent can talk to the doctors and other health care providers, and your agent can act as your proxy, enforcing the quality of care you planned. Your agent has the legal power to ensure that you receive the medical care you specify, and is legally bound to follow the wishes you outlined in your medical power of attorney.

There is another kind of health care directive you need to know about. Since it’s so important your agent, and your health care providers, understand exactly what your wishes are, those wishes are captured in a document called either a health care directive, or as part of a living will. In this document, you make a written legal declaration of your precise health care instructions to both your agent and your health care providers so there will be no misunderstandings.

To make this easier, the State of California lets us combine both the durable power of attorney and the health care declaration into a single document called an advance health care directive.