Any estate plan should contain documents that account for every sphere of your life. In the sphere of your own physical being, the advance health care directive is that document. Put simply, an advance health care directive is a power of attorney for medical decisions that confers authority to someone to make health care decisions when you can’t. With an advance health care directive, you can nominate an agent to act on your behalf, grant them authority to do so, and specify the kind of treatment you would want to receive if you become incapacitated.

Of course, a good estate plan should be something more than just a collection of documents. At Blacksburg Law, we take a more collaborative, comprehensive approach to estate planning. We believe that the best estate plans focus on the way that you want to live your life, and what kind of legacy you want to leave when you are gone.

With our flat fee estate planning services, you will get all of the documents that are necessary for a complete estate plan. You will also get something more: a chance to work through and figure out what is important to you, with the guidance of an estate planning attorney who also has experience as a fiduciary advisor and corporate trustee. If you’d like to learn more about our process, reach out today to schedule a consultation.

What Is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is a specific type of power of attorney . Just like other powers of attorney, you can use this document to designate an agent who has authority to act on your behalf.

You can also use an AHCD to make decisions about what type of medical treatment you want in certain situations. For example, you can specify that if you are in a permanent vegetative state, you want intravenous hydration but not nutrition. However, if you do not express your wishes regarding these and other types of treatment, then your agent will have broad authority to make these decisions on your behalf.

Notably, an AHCD is distinct from a Do Not Resuscitate order (commonly referred to as a DNR). In California, a DNR can only be signed by your primary physician and is printed on special paper and posted on your door or close to your bed. An AHCD allows you to make a plan for the treatment that you want in specific situations. A DNR is based on a physician’s determination that the likelihood that you will survive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is low.

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    California offers a statutory advance health care directive that anyone can fill out and print. It is also typically included as part of a broad will or trust-based estate plan. Like a durable power of attorney and pour-over last will and testament, an AHCD is an ancillary document that ensures that someone you trust has the authority to act in almost any situation that may arise with your health care.

    At Blacksburg Law, we consider these ancillary documents to be multi-tools. Like a Swiss Army Knife, your loved ones can pull out the right tool for the job based on what is happening. If you don’t have an AHCD or any of the other ancillary documents, then your agents may not have the proper authority to act on your behalf. This can lead to more expensive and time-consuming legal action, such as a guardianship proceeding.

    One of the goals of a solid trust-based estate plan is to avoid these unnecessary costs. Instead, we encourage our clients to invest in the type of estate planning that considers and plans for any and all contingencies. We offer flat fee services so that you know exactly how much an estate plan will cost you – and you don’t have to worry about how much you’ll be billed if you send an email with a question, get into a philosophical discussion with your attorney about some aspect of your estate plan, or just want to spend some time figuring out how your plan will actually work.

    Our estate planning process is different from what most law firms do. We know that the documents are important; after all, they provide the legal authority for your trustee, agent(s) and/or executor to act. But we know that if estate planning is a road trip, then the documents just help you get to where you need to go. They are not the journey.

    To that end, we have homework exercises that support you having a detailed health care conversation with your loved ones. Health care is about more than “pull the plug/don’t pull the plug.” These days our clients may live for years needing assisted living and health care decisionmaking. Health care is more about prioritization and working with your other advisors.
    We know that few people want to think about what will happen if they become incapacitated due to an illness or injury. In our estate planning sessions, we focus on how you want to live – instead of what happens when you die. At the same time, our legal team will work with you to understand your wishes.

    For most folks, the AHCD is not more involved than the statutory form. But for some others, we will draft an advance health care directive that reflects what you want.

    Estate Planning Basics


    Download our Estate Planning Basics PDF Guide to get more information about what estate planning is, how it works, what you need to consider, and why Blacksburg Law is the right partner for you.

    How Our Law Firm Can Help

    Estate planning doesn’t have to be a dry, legal process. It can – and should – be something more. Blacksburg Law is adept at handling the legal intricacies of estate planning while simultaneously helping our clients decide what success looks like for them. In this way, we are able to give our clients a comprehensive estate plan that helps them both define and prepare their legacy.

    From our law offices in San Francisco, we counsel clients throughout California on trust-based estate plans. Our flat-fee services are ideal for anyone who wants an estate planning process that focuses on empathy over fear. We won’t simply gather some information from you and spit out documents for you to file away. Instead, we will have multiple conversations with you to determine what truly matters to you and your family.

    Our estate planning services are designed for people who want to go beyond the documents. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California estate planning attorney, give us a call at 415-508-5600 or fill out our online contact form.

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