Have you ever considered what you would want if you were on life support? Would you want the doctors to pull the plug? How about only if you had brain activity? What if it was not completely certain how much physical function you would have? The possible scenarios are endless. Unfortunately, just talking about it with your loved one is not enough to give them legal decision-making authority on your behalf in case you ever are incapacitated. A painful situation for loved ones to be in, this can all be prevented through utilizing basic estate planning tools.

There are two types of estate planning tools that are required to ensure that: One, your health care decisions are executed according to your wishes and two, they are made by a person you designate and are given the proper legal authority to make these decisions on your behalf.

The dual necessity of a durable power of attorney and an advanced health care directive is often misunderstood, as some people have only one – thinking then that they are set. When in fact, they are missing an entire piece of the puzzle.

Below is a description of each tool and how it will help you accomplish your health care estate planning goals.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney: You can think of this as assigning your decision-making power to one person. You can also assign more than one person, each with specific decision-making authority. This document gives this assignment and authority.
  2. Advanced Health Care Directive: This is a document that will describe with as much detail as possible the instructions you leave for whoever is making the decision. These are guidelines the person can use to help with the many different types of potential scenarios you could be facing.

To obtain both of these essential estate planning documents, it is strongly advised that you seek the legal counsel of a seasoned estate planning attorney in California. Working closely with your attorney, you can cater your health care wishes to your unique specifications.