The Best Sources for California Advance Directive Forms
If you've decided it's time to prepare documents directing your health care, congratulations. It may be challenging to think about the kinds of medical treatment you do or do not want at the end of life, but your completed forms are almost guaranteed to bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones.
To get started, you'll need the right forms to fill out. In California, that means obtaining an Advance Health Care Directive form.
Which Advance Directive Form Is Best?
You have several options for choosing health care forms in California. You can use the Advance Directive form published by the state, but you are not required to do so. Other Advance Directive forms are valid as long as they meet state law requirements, including signing and witnessing or notarization rules. (See California Probate Code § 4700 and following.)
If you want to quickly prepare a legally valid Advance Directive, you can find a link to a free copy of California's Advance Directive form below. Many people prefer, however, to have additional guidance to help them complete their form.
Following is a brief overview of what California's Advance Directive form covers, as well as options for getting additional help, if you need it.
About California's Advance Directive Form
The Advance Directive published by California is one of the most thorough in the country. It is divided into six parts.
Part 1: Your durable power of attorney for health care. The first part of the form allows you to name a health care agent who will speak for you if you become too ill to speak for yourself. You can name a first choice and two alternates, and provide guidelines to help your agent make decisions for you. For example, you may state whether or not you want your health care agent to make decisions about providing you with food and water through a tube or IV.
You are also invited to give your agent power to handle certain matters after your death, including carrying out your wishes for organ donation, authorizing an autopsy, and directing the burial or cremation of your body.
Part 2: Your health care instructions (living will). The second section of the form is where you state whether you do or do not wish to receive life-sustaining treatment at the end of your life. It provides blanks for you to address your wishes in detail, covering instructions for pain relief and other matters.
Part 3: Organ donation. Part three gives you the opportunity to state whether you wish to donate organs after your death, and to provide specific guidelines if you choose.
Part 4: Your primary physician. The form allows you to name the doctor you would like to oversee your medical care. You can name an alternate for this position as well.
Parts 5 and 6: These parts are where you sign your form and have it witnessed or notarized.
Where to Get a Free Copy of California's Advance Directive Form
Making a California Advance Directive with Quicken WillMaker
We're going to be upfront here. The authors of this website, Albin Renauer, J.D., and Shae Irving, J.D., have extensive experience creating tools to help people make their own valid legal forms, and they have spent a couple of decades researching and studying the health care directive laws for the fifty states. Each is a lawyer and contributor to the Quicken WillMaker estate planning software program, available from Nolo.com.
The California Advance Directive form you make with Quicken WillMaker meets all state law requirements and allows you to spell out your wishes for health care in as little or as much detail as you choose. The program walks you step by step through the process of making your document, explaining each choice along the way. When you're done, you simply print your completed Advance Directive and follow the enclosed instructions about how to sign it, have it witnessed or notarized, and get it into the hands of those who may need to know your wishes in the future.
Quicken WillMaker's California Advance Directive covers all the issues addressed in California's official form.
If you're ready to get started, you can download Quicken WillMaker and make your forms today.
When to Get a Lawyer's Help
Health care forms are specially designed so you can complete them on your own, or with input as needed from your doctor or other health care advisers. That said, if you feel more comfortable enlisting a lawyer to make or review your documents, you should seek help from a qualified estate planning attorney.
For more information about hiring a lawyer to make your documents, including situations when a lawyer's help may be particularly useful, see Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Living Will?