No one in California (or anywhere, for that matter) can predict the future. However, many people want to be as prepared as possible for various types of urgent and/or inevitable situations that may occur. The estate planning process helps this happen because those who execute solid plans can customize their documents to address the issues they consider most important.

Advanced directives are crucial components of many people’s estate plans. Often referred to as “living wills,” these directives allow someone to document his or her wishes concerning personal medical care. Signing advanced directives in front of two witnesses makes them valid.

At the end of life (or in an apparent life-or-death situation), physicians must certify several things before carrying out the advanced directives of a patient. A primary concern is whether the patient is able to make medical decisions on behalf of self. Typically, advanced directives specify conditions, such as complete unresponsiveness or terminal illness, as guides for medical professionals carrying out a person’s wishes in a living will.

Many people designate another person to act as a medical power of attorney. This duty would become null should the patient regain the ability to make decisions in his or her own right. State laws regarding such matters vary; anyone wishing to include advanced directives in the estate planning process will want to clarify California law before executing a definite plan. A probate and estate administration attorney can provide guidance, as well as carefully review a drafted plan before it is fully executed.

Source: caringinfo.org, “What are Advance Directives?“, Accessed on April 26, 2017