Palm Springs Living Will Attorney

When you create a living will, you can make your wishes regarding life support and end-of-life medical care known to your family members and medical care providers. If you become incapacitated, your healthcare agent will be able to confidently make medication decisions on your behalf, according to your living will. Creating a living will is incredibly important, and it will allow you to receive the type of medical care you prefer in emergency medical situations or end-of-life care.

Your estate plan should include more than just directions for the distribution of your assets. A thorough estate plan will also include legal documents that protect your interests and wishes as you age. At Heritage Legal, PC, we have helped many Palm Springs area clients create living wills. We understand that our clients need a comprehensive estate plan that includes essential end-of-life planning protections in the form of a living will. Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your estate planning goals.

What Is a Living Will?

There are two different types of estate planning documents that relate to health care in California. In a durable power of attorney for health care, you can appoint a person you trust to make healthcare decisions for you on your behalf if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. A living will is a legal document that allows you to set forth the types of medical treatment you would like in certain emergency and end-of-life medical situations. In California, these two estate planning documents are combined in a single legal document called the Advance Health Care Directive.

A living will is an estate planning document that allows you to state your medical decision preferences should you become incapacitated. For example, you can state in your living will whether you’d like medical professionals to place you on life support if you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. You can also make your preferences regarding pain medication and whether you’d like intravenous (IV) fluids or nourishment during end-of-life medical care.

California residents can create an Advance Health Care Directive, a legal document that is essentially a living will. In an Advance Health Care Directive, you can select a healthcare agent to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them for yourself. If you become incapacitated, your doctors will be able to read your living will and understand your wishes regarding end-of-life care. By providing your family members and doctors with a living will, you will ease the burden on them. They will have a clear idea about what type of treatment you’d like to receive. You can also make sure that your wishes will be followed should you become incapacitated.

Healthcare Decisions Commonly Addressed in Do Not Resuscitate Orders

When your medical condition prevents you from articulating your preferences, your care team can turn to your living will to learn what you would like to be done. One of the key issues addressed in a living will involve what types of measures you’d like medical professionals to take to try to save your life in a medical emergency, suffer from brain death, or enter into a vegetative state. You can clearly state that you do not want medical professionals to resuscitate you using extraordinary measures. On the contrary, you can direct your medical team to use all methods available to resuscitate you.

Importantly, creating a living will give you the chance to address what type of pain medication you’d like to receive in the end stages of life to make you more comfortable. Some people choose to receive strong pain medication, while others refuse strong pain medication so they can stay lucid and spend time with their family. Finally, you will be able to authorize medical professionals to harvest your organs if you choose to become an organ donor in your living will.

Appointing a Healthcare Agent

In California, an Advance Health Care Directive is a living will and a durable power of attorney for healthcare combined into one important legal document. When completing an Advance Health Care Directive, you can appoint a family member or friend to act as your agent if you become incapacitated. Your agent will have the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf after a medical doctor determines that you are incapacitated. Many of our clients appoint their partner, spouse, close friend, or relative to act as their health care agent. You cannot choose your treating medical doctor, an employee of your treating medical doctor, or an employee of your residential care facility.

Discussing End-of-Life Care Can Be Challenging

Discussing end-of-life care can be emotionally difficult. It is never easy to think about the end of our lives. However, taking the time to examine your preferences for end of life care is an incredibly important aspect of estate planning. Founding attorney Christopher Heritage has helped many clients walk through creating their living wills. He will listen to your concerns and empathetically help you create a living will that will accurately state your preferences for end-of-life care.

He can help you understand the different types of medical scenarios that could happen and help you decide what type of medical care you’d like in each scenario. Once you clearly state your preferences in a living will, your family members and doctors are legally required to implement your wishes. Many of our clients feel a tremendous sense of relief when they complete their living wills because they know their loved ones will have a clear guideline should you need end-of-life care. 

 What is the Main Disadvantage of a Living Will?

The main disadvantage of a living will is its limited scope. It only addresses medical treatments, not financial or personal matters. Additionally, its effectiveness relies on physician compliance and accessibility to healthcare providers when needed. While invaluable for expressing your end-of-life wishes for medical care, it's often paired with a power of attorney and a living trust for a more comprehensive plan.

Contact Our Palm Springs Living Will Attorney Today

Thinking about end-of-life care can be difficult, but it is an important part of estate planning. At Heritage Legal, PC, we have helped many clients prepare thorough estate plans, and we are ready to help you. Contact our Palm Springs law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

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