Torrance Living Wills Lawyer
Professional help with end-of-life document preparation and planning in Torrance
The best time to start thinking about getting end-of-life documents in order, such as your last will and testament or health care directive, is well before you’re incapacitated and can no longer speak for yourself. You may have had conversations with your loved ones about the sort of care you want to receive if you’re on life-sustaining machines, but your family members can’t simply refer to a conversation when instructing the doctors to withhold treatment. Instead, you must have these instructions ready to go in an official legal document when they’re needed.
The South Bay law firm of Samuel Ford Law can help ensure that your family is prepared when crisis strikes. Having health care directives in place means that your family doesn’t need to worry about whether they’re carrying out your wishes correctly when important decisions arise, allowing them to focus on what matters in trying times. From anywhere in the Los Angeles South Bay, contact Samuel Ford Law to consult with a Torrance living wills lawyer with over ten years’ experience creating end-of-life documents and estate plans.
Do I need a living will as well as an Advance Health Care Directive?
The term “living will” describes a document that isn’t often used in California anymore. A living will only addresses the types of care you wish to receive, including measures intended to extend your life or the use of particular life-sustaining machines. This document can also include details on your preferences regarding palliative care and pain management, as well as hospice care.
Most Californians now use advance health care directives to provide legally binding instructions on their treatment when they are unable to voice those instructions themselves. Creating an advance health care directive is a much more thorough and efficient way to offer guidance to your loved ones and physicians regarding the type of measures you do and don’t want to be taken when you’re incapacitated.
In addition to the information contained in a traditional living will, an advance health care directive can include a durable power of attorney for health care. This document appoints an agent or surrogate to make medical decisions on your behalf when you’re incapacitated.
You may have heard of the following forms which could also be used during a time of incapacity:
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR): This document is a way of letting medical professionals know that, should your heart stop beating, you do not want to receive CPR, intubation, defibrillation, and/or heart-stimulating drugs.
Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): This document is typically used by persons who are suffering from a terminal illness. A POLST form, which must be signed by your doctor, indicates specific treatments you do or do not wish to receive, such as the use of artificial nutrition, feeding tubes, antibiotics, or other life-sustaining measures. In contrast to an advanced health care directive, the POLST form lays out these instructions in greater detail, as well as by using obvious terms that emergency medical personnel can easily decipher, unlike an advance health care directive which uses more legal terminology.
When do living wills or health care directives take effect?
These sorts of documents only take effect when you are incapacitated, according to your medical provider’s opinion. A patient will be considered incapacitated when they are either unable to understand the nature or consequences of the decisions regarding their health care that they are being asked to make or they aren’t able to communicate either orally, in writing, or otherwise regarding the type of care they wish to receive.
On rare occasions, these sorts of legal documents offering end-of-life care instructions may become legally invalid. These occasions could include:
Invalidation by a court: A court might rule that a health care directive is not valid if someone can prove that the person who executed it lacked the requisite mental capacity when signing the document, or if the document were not properly signed and witnessed.
Divorce: If your health care directive names your spouse as your agent for health care decisions, but you divorce and do not review the document before you need it, the document will become invalid if you did not list an alternate agent.
Your health care agent’s authority is revoked: If a witness to your condition and care believes that the person acting as your health care agent is not acting in your best interest or according to your stated desires, they may seek a court’s help in invalidating the agent’s authority to make these decisions on your behalf.
A complete California estate plan includes all end-of-life documents, not just a will
The Torrance estate planning professionals at Samuel Ford Law can help you create a complete estate plan that includes all documents you’ll want in place for the sake of yourself and your family, not just a document that divides your property. Contact Samuel Ford Law today to discuss the documents you’ll need in place in the event of an emergency.