ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE (AHCD)
A California Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD), sometimes referred to in other states as a living will, personal directive, advance directive, medical directive or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity
ADVANCE DIRECTIVE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO APPOINT A HEALTH CARE AGENTAn AHCD is an advance directive that allows you to appoint a health care agent (also known as an attorney-in-fact, a proxy, or a surrogate) to make health care decisions for you in the event that you can no longer speak for yourself. Every state recognizes an AHCD, but laws governing directives vary from state to state. Some states consolidate the AHCD with other advance directives. For example, California's Advance Health Care Directive consolidates the AHCD, the Natural Death Act, and the Directive to Physicians into one form.
With an AHCD, you have the right to give instructions about your own health care. You also have the right to name someone else to make health care decisions for you. A California Advance Healthcare Directive lets you do either or both of these things. It also lets you express your wishes regarding donation of organs and the designation of your primary physician.
What if I am competent to make my own health care decisions?Unless you stipulate otherwise, your health care agent makes decisions for you only if you are no longer able to make health care decisions for yourself.
What powers can I give my health care agent?An AHCD allows you to give your health care agent as broad or as limited powers as you like. The powers you can give to your agent may include:
o The right to select or discharge care providers and institutions;
o The right to refuse or consent to treatment;
o The right to access medical records;
o The right to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment;
o The power to make anatomical gifts.
Who should I choose as a health care agent?You should choose a person whom you trust, such as a spouse, partner, family member or close friend. The person you choose should know your personal values and beliefs. If possible, you will want to choose someone who lives in your area in case he or she is called upon to direct your treatment for an extended period of time. You will want to discuss your health care wishes with your agent and be sure he or she is willing to act on your behalf. Many states will not allow your health care provider or anyone working in a health facility to be a health care agent. You should talk to the person you have named as agent to make sure that he or she understands your wishes and is willing to take the responsibility.
Can I choose an alternate health care agent?Yes. You should choose at least one alternate person to act as your health care agent in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to make health care decisions for you. You should talk to the person you have named as alternate agent(s) to make sure that he or she understands your wishes and is willing to take the responsibility.
How do I execute an AHCD?You must be at least 18 years of age and mentally competent to execute a valid AHCD. You must sign your AHCD form. The directive must be signed by two qualified witnesses or acknowledged before a notary public. Give a copy of the signed and completed directive to your physician, to any other health care providers you may have, to any health care institution at which you are receiving care, and to any health care agents you have named.