Living Will & Advance Health Care Directive Attorneys in Napa, California


Giving Clients Peace of Mind About End-of-Life Care

You might not want to think about a situation where you’re unable to communicate your wishes about your medical care, but this could be your reality in the future. Even if you’re young and healthy, a sudden illness or accident could leave you in a coma or otherwise incapable of making your wishes clear to your doctors. 

You can avoid any confusion in the hospital by documenting your health care wishes ahead of time through an advance health care directive. The lawyers at Celaya Law will help you set up this legal arrangement so you can rest assured that your medical team is aware of your healthcare preferences even when you can’t tell them directly. Contact our Napa Valley law firm to schedule a consultation with our legal team.

What Is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An advance health care directive is a legal document with instructions on how you want your medical care handled. There are two main parts of this type of directive. One is a living will, which is a document that explains the medical treatment you would approve of being given if necessary. This might include different surgeries, medications, and procedures. 

Living wills can also outline any medical treatments you do not want to receive. So, if you have personal or religious objections to specific procedures or medications, your living will should make this clear so medical professionals can adhere to your preferences. 

Note that your living will only comes into effect when you’re too incapacitated to communicate clearly with the medical staff. If you start recovering enough to talk to the doctors, this document will become void. 

The other important part of any advance health care directive is the durable power of attorney for health care. This appoints someone you trust to act as your representative when you can’t speak for yourself. This person will be responsible for ensuring your doctors follow the instructions in your living will and may make decisions regarding your medical care when necessary.

What Medical Decisions Can a Living Will Address?

When you create a living will, you can specify how you want medical professionals to care for you while you’re in a coma, recovering from a stroke, experiencing dementia, or otherwise unable to communicate. Some of the crucial topics in your living will could include your wishes regarding:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Dialysis
  • Organ and tissue donation
  • Ventilators 
  • Feeding tubes
  • Antibiotics and other medications
  • Autopsies
  • Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders
  • Burying or cremating your remains 

An experienced living wills lawyer can review these and other decisions with you to ensure your wishes are clear. Once the advance health care directive is complete, you can give copies of it to the hospital, your doctor’s office, your durable power of attorney, and anyone else who needs to know your medical preferences. If you have questions about creating this document, contact our Napa law offices for guidance from a lawyer. 

What’s a Durable Power of Attorney?

As important as drafting your living will is, it’s only part of your advance health care directive. The other critical part is a durable power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy. This is an individual you trust to make decisions regarding your health care when you cannot do so. 

For instance, if you’re unconscious or unable to communicate, and your doctors need to know if you will consent to a type of surgery or medication, your proxy can make this decision on your behalf. Of course, if your living will specifies your choice, the doctors will refer to that information. But there may be medical topics that your living will doesn’t address, in which case your proxy can make the decision for you. 

Considering the effects that medical treatments can have on your life, it’s essential that you choose a durable power of attorney whom you can trust to have your best interests at heart. Make sure the person you choose knows about and would honor your values and beliefs when it comes to your medical care. You might also consider choosing an alternate power of attorney in case the first one is unavailable to make decisions on your behalf when you become ill. If you need help deciding who to choose for this role, your lawyers can offer you the legal advice you need as they draft your advanced health care directive. 

When Should You Talk to Living Will & Advance Health Care Directive Attorneys?

Many people don’t start to think about end-of-life decisions until they become older, experience serious health problems, or become terminally ill. While these are some signs that you should think about drafting a living will, last will, and other critical documents, it’s not recommended that you wait that long. After all, anyone can suddenly become incapacitated through a car accident, workplace incident, or any other event that could cause severe injuries or death.

When this occurs, you don’t want your family members to wonder what your wishes are when it comes to life support measures, organ donation, and other major decisions. They shouldn’t have to guess what you would want and hope that their choice is the right one. Instead of leaving these decisions to your spouse, parents, or adult children, make your wishes clear on a living will and appoint a durable power of attorney to support those wishes. 

If you’re ready to discuss your advance health care directive, contact Celaya Law for assistance. Our lawyers can also provide guidance on elder law issues, create an estate plan, and find other ways to protect your future. Call us at 707-754-0977 for a free consultation. 

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