April 12, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: End of Life Issues Practice Management
California law provides individuals the ability to ensure that their health care wishes are known and considered if they become unable to make these decisions themselves. In California, advance directives are the legally recognized format for “living wills.” Advance directives also allow patients to appoint a health care "agent" who will have legal authority to make health care decisions in the event that the patient is incapacitated, or immediately upon appointment if the patient expressly grants such authority.
The California Medical Association (CMA) publishes the Advance Health Care Directive Kit which includes an Advance Health Care Directive form, wallet cards, and answers to questions commonly asked about the Advance Directive.
CMA's Advance Health Care Directive Kit, available in English and Spanish, has been updated to include changes to the probate code passed by the California Legislature in 2018. The updated language for written advance directives now allows a person to authorize an agent to consent to any temporary medical procedures necessary to maintain organs, tissues, and/or parts for the purpose of donation.
CMA encourages Californians to think and talk with loved ones about their wishes for end-of-life medical care before a serious illness or injury occurs. For more information about Advance Health Care Directives, see CMA's health law library document #3451, "Decisions Regarding Life-Sustaining Treatment- Advance Directives and POLST," or visit cmadocs.org/end-of-life.
CMA health law library documents are available free to members. Nonmembers can purchase documents for $2 per page.
Contact: CMA legal information line, (800) 786-4262 or via email.