Palm Springs Law Blog

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Advance Health Care Directives and End-of-Life Decisions in CA

While sometimes a bit tough to think about, it’s really important to understand Advance Health Care Directives and end-of-life decisions. After all, everyone should be entitled to live their life as they choose, right down to the very end. There are two options when it comes to end-of-life decisions: to prolong life or not to prolong life.

Advance Health Care Directive

An Advance Health Care Directive states:

“I direct that my health care providers and others involved in my care provide, withhold, or withdraw treatment in accordance with the choice I have marked below:

  • Choice Not to Prolong Life
  • I do not want my life to be prolonged if (1) I have an incurable and irreversible condition that will result in my death within a relatively short time, (2) I become unconscious and, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, I will not regain consciousness, or (3) the likely risks and burdens of treatment would outweigh the expected benefits, OR

  • Choice to Prolong Life
  • I want my life to be prolonged as long as possible within the limits of generally accepted health care standards.”


It’s important to understand that when it comes to various aspects of your health care, you are allowed to specify your wishes – regardless of whether you appoint an agent to see them out. You can decide whether to provide, withhold, or withdraw treatment intended to keep you alive, as well as the type of pain relief you would like. You also have the ability to write out any additional wishes that you would like regarding your end-of-life decisions. However, you may simply give your agent the legal authority to make all of these end-of-life decisions on your behalf.

It’s important to note that there is no explanation provided in terms of what condition is considered to be incurable or reversible or what constitutes medical certainty that you will remain unconscious.

California Adopts POLST

Since the determinants can be confusing, 14 states, including California, have adopted a program known as Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). This is intended to be complementary to the Advance Health Care Directive and must be signed by both the patient and the doctor. POLST helps to specify whether a patient would like to receive a feeding tube, antibiotics, or to be put on a breathing machine.

Heritage Legal, PC Helps Those in California to Plan for Long-Term and End-of-Life Care

At Heritage Legal, PC, we understand the importance of protecting your interests and the interests of those whom you care about most. We can help you to create a long-term care plan that fills all of your needs, including end-of-life care, and plans ahead for your future and your family. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

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