Were you aware that determining the right health care decision maker for you is an important aspect of California estate planning? Why?  It is because your health care decision maker will have the crucial role of making medical decisions on your behalf, due to incapacity or illness, if you become unable to do so. Your health care decision maker should be able to act as you and make the decisions you would, not substitute their judgment for yours.

Again, the health care decision maker is an important role in any estate plan. Do you have questions on how to find the right person for you and need guidance on what to consider when it comes to ensuring you have the right health care decision maker in place? We would like to share some thoughtful questions with you right here in our blog.

  1. Does your decision maker understand the role? Your health care decision maker needs to know that they are responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf, according to your wishes and best interests. They should be capable of understanding and communicating your healthcare preferences, treatment options, and potential outcomes. You need to discuss your values, beliefs, and medical preferences with the person you choose as your health care decision maker. If they are uncomfortable making any of these decisions for you, they will not be the right person to serve in this role.
  1. Do you trust the person you have chosen? Your health care decision maker should be someone you absolutely trust. They should have a clear understanding of your values, beliefs, and priorities when it comes to medical care. Open and ongoing communication is vital, as they may need to make difficult decisions in challenging circumstances. Ensure that your chosen individual is comfortable advocating for your wishes and can communicate effectively with healthcare providers.
  1. Do your California health care planning documents meet your state legal requirements? Different jurisdictions have specific legal requirements regarding health care decision makers. When you work with an experienced California estate planning attorney, she is going to be familiar with the laws of the state of California to ensure compliance. If you plan to move or want to use these documents in another state it is critical that you meet with your attorney who can provide you with the guidance you need to ensure your wishes can be honored in a crisis. 
  1. Were you aware that availability and proximity do matter? Be sure to carefully consider the availability and proximity of your chosen health care decision maker. It would be preferable for your health care decision maker to be easily accessible and able to respond promptly in the event of a medical emergency or the need for important healthcare decisions. If your designated decision maker is unable to fulfill this role due to distance, health concerns, or other factors, you may need to consider an alternative or appoint a secondary or tertiary decision maker.
  1. Did you know you should also plan now for a backup decision maker? It would be wise to designate a backup health care decision maker in case your primary choice is unable or unwilling to fulfill the role when the need arises. This ensures that there is always someone available to make important medical decisions on your behalf. With the guidance of your California estate planning attorney, discuss this arrangement with both the primary and backup decision makers to ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

Be mindful that the choice of a health care decision maker is highly personal. It is crucial to consider the specific needs of your situation and select someone you trust to make decisions aligned with your values and wishes. Regularly reviewing and updating your California estate plan, including the designation of your health care decision maker, can help ensure that your wishes are respected in times of medical incapacity.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here for you and your loved ones. Please call us to schedule a meeting time.