A Brief Guide to California Living Wills
California living wills are important legal documents because they put in writing the types and extent of medical treatment that you want to receive at the end of your life, when you are no longer able to express your feelings yourself. It’s important, therefore, that you compose your California living will as soon as possible, since you never no when a debilitating illness or injury may strike that will cause you to not be able to direct your own medical care. California living wills are complex documents containing several different files and elements, and you should understand each of them before you signing a California living will. This guide will help you to parse its different directives.
California Living Will Part 1: Power of Attorney
Since you won’t be able to direct your own medical care, you should select a person to do this for you. This person is usually referred to as a health care agent, and by naming them you grant them full rights to make medical decisions in your name, to choose doctors or hopitals for you, and to receive your total medical history. You may place limitations on these powers, and if so, they should be stated explicitly here in this section.
You’ll also be asked to name an alternate agent and a second alternate agent. In case your agent is injured alongside you or for whatever other reason is not able to take full responsibility as your health care agent, then the alternate and then second alternate health care agent will be asked to take their place.
California Living Will Part 2: Instructions for Health Care
This is the real meat of your California living will, containing what all of your directions for what you’d like your end-of-life medical treatments to be. You will have the choice first whether or not to prolong your life in the case that the benefits of prolonging are outweighed by their costs or that a reasonable quality of life will be impossible to regain. It is also possible that you will have other, more specific requests, in which case they should be put down in writing here. Typical requests often have to do with the delivery of food intravenously, or with the special procedures desired if the signer is pregnant.
California Living Will Parts 3 & 4: Optional
These sections of your California living will are completely optional, but they be extremely helpful and convenient if you wish to express these wishes somewhere. Section 3 concerns organ donation, and 4 allows you to name your primary physician.
Print and Validating Your California Living Will
Once you think you understand California living wills, you may wish to write and sign one of your own. The Attorney General’s Office of California has, on their website, a blank California living will form that you may fill out and use. Print it here
To make the document legally binding, it must be signed by at least two witnesses, at least one in whom cannot stand to benefit monetarily from your death in any way.