McCoy Fatula, APCMcCoy
Located in Roseville, CA

Addressing health care directives through estate planning process

Many California residents have found themselves in urgent medical situations where they are unable to speak for themselves due to some type of incapacitation. If a patient in such circumstances has executed estate planning documents that include health care directives, doctors will refer to such plans to determine how to proceed in a life-or-death situation. If the patient has appointed another party or parties to make health-related decisions on his or her behalf, then medical professionals are obligated to adhere to such instructions.

Having a set health care directive plan is not a 100 percent guarantee that doctors will comply with one's wishes. There are certain circumstances that would allow a doctor to deviate from a directive. If acting in accordance with directives would violate standards of care at a particular institution or would compromise a physician's good conscience in some way, he or she may go against signed instructions.

Some situations are far more complex than others. For instance, if a pregnant woman is in dire need of medical attention, a doctor may not necessarily have to comply with written health care directives unless those instructions include specifications for pregnancy. Generally speaking, however, medical professionals have a duty to act according to the recorded instructions of a patient who is incapacitated and facing a life-threatening situation.

Health care directives are not the only crucial component of a thorough estate planning process. Many other matters can be addressed as well, such as appointment of legal guardians for children or naming a power of attorney. To explore all available options, as well as clarify estate planning laws in California, a person can request a consultation with an experienced estate administration attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Health Care Directives: Is there a Duty to Follow Them?", Accessed on March 23, 2017

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