Advance Healthcare Directives in the Age of COVID-19

Fortin Law Group

Published: May 18, 2021

Perhaps, the most critical estate planning tool, in light of the global Pandemic, is the Advance Healthcare Directive. (In some states, this document is split into two documents called a healthcare power of attorney and a living will). This legal document, applicable in California, allows you to:

1. Appoint an agent to give instructions about your healthcare. For example, if you are hospitalized with COVID-19 and need to be placed in a medically induced coma, this person would have the legal authority to advise doctors about your subsequent medical care.

2. Set forth your wishes regarding the type and level of care, including end-of-life treatment, in the event you are unable to express your wishes. For example, if you should become seriously ill and unable to manage your treatment, a living will can guide your agent to make these medical decisions on your behalf. These decisions could include if and when you want life support removed, whether you would want hydration and nutrition, and even what kind of food you want and who can visit you. To ensure your medical treatment is handled exactly the way you want, and to prevent your family from undergoing needless stress and conflict during an already trying time, it’s vital that you document these desires in an Advance Healthcare Directive.

If you become incapacitated without a medical power of attorney, physicians will generally look to someone in your family to make these decisions for you. If no family can be located, they may ask the court to appoint a legal guardian to be the decision-maker. In either case, the person given this responsibility could be someone you’d never want having power over such life or death decisions—and that’s why having medical power of attorney is so important.

In light of COVID-19, even those who have already created these documents should revisit them to ensure they are up-to-date and address specific scenarios related to the coronavirus. While all adults over age 18 should put these documents in place as soon as possible, if you are over age 60 or have a chronic underlying health condition, the need is particularly urgent. Contact us right away if you or anyone in your family needs these documents created. At Fortin Law Group, we don’t just draft documents; we assist you to make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. We can guide you to make informed, educated, and empowered choices to protect yourself and the ones you love most. Contact us today to get started.

This article was provided by Fortin Law Group, Laguna Niguel, California. This article is intended to provide the reader with general information regarding current legal issues. It is not construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for the need to seek competent legal advice on specific legal matters.

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