September 29, 2011

Advance Health Care Directive

If a person wishes to execute an advance health care directive, they have a number of options to choose from. The following are some examples of fill-in-the-blank forms that are used:

1. Statutory Advance Health Care Directive (Probate Code §4701)

The California probate code provides a template that a person may use for an advance health care directive. It provides instruction on how to complete and execute the document. Since there is no virtually no fee for this form, other than the printing cost, the cost-effectiveness of this option is a definite plus as compared to other options. However, the person will need to self-educate themselves on the topic of medical decision-making. Consequently, I know of no attorney who advises clients to utilize this method.

2. The California Medical Association (CMA) AHCD form.

The CMA produces a form that may be purchased online at its website for a fee. The CMA form is widely-recognized by health-care providers because it is the industry’s version of an AHCD. Hence, the concern of a health care provider not honoring a CMA AHCD dissipates. The form provides very easy to understand instructions on how to complete and execute the document. I personally use the CMA or CHA form for all of my clients.

3. The California Hospital Association (CHA) AHCD form.

The CHA, another trade association, also produces an AHCD. This form is free to download.The principal difference between this form and the CMA form is the clause pertaining to the prolonging of life. For the CMA Form, there are only two situations in which an individual may indicate a preference for not prolonging his or her life, if (1) the person has a terminal condition that will result in death in a matter of months or (2) an irreversible condition that renders the person unable to make decisions and life support is needed to keep the person alive. As for the CHA form, it contains a third option for prolonging life, (3) when the likely risks and burdens of treatment would outweigh the expected benefits.

Of note, the picture is the rod of Asclepius, the Greek symbol for medicine.