A California Living Will Form is a written legal document that outlines how physicians should handle life-prolonging treatment if you become incapacitated and unable to speak. The California Living Will makes it possible for you to state your wishes in advance about health care procedures if you are in a terminal condition.
When drafting a California Living Will, you disclose and define your medical treatment wishes in advance for a time in the future if you are unable to communicate because of an illness or injury. Your wishes must be based on your own personal values and expectations. You need to consider all hardships and burdens on your family, and your quality of life if you are seriously ill and in a coma or vegetative state.
Instructions on How to Prepare a California Living Will Form
Once you print a California Living Will form, you will need to gather all of your information and medical care directions. To fill out a Living Will in California, you need the following information:
- Your Name, Address, Age, Date of Birth and Phone Number
- Fill in your own personal directions for end of life care
- Attach any additional directions that you wish to add to your California Living Will Form
- You will need to assemble your witnesses and notary public
- Sign and date your California Living Will in presence of witnesses and notary public
- The witnesses will then sign the Living Will
- The notary public will finally sign and seal the California Living Will to make it valid
After preparing and signing your Living Will, you want to make sure that copies are distributed. You should keep the originals safe but easily accessible. You’ll want to provide copies of your California Living Will Form to your physician and to a Medical Power of Attorney, if you have one.
Important: Inserted with your original documents, you really need to keep a list of who has copies.
You also may want to discuss your California Living Will and other health care plans with your loved ones and family members. This will be a tough discussion, particularly if they do not agree with your plans, but it’s best to notify them beforehand and go over any of their concerns.
If you are a frequent traveler, you may want to keep a copy of your Living Will Form California with you in the event that you fall seriously ill or unconscious during your trip. Keep it safe along with your passport and other identifying documents.
Details to Consider When Writing a California Living Will
Filling out a California Living Will Form can be a daunting task. You really need to be forthcoming on how you feel about your health care treatment in the event of a terminal condition. Your California Living Will should specify what to do about the following circumstances:
- Resuscitation– You likely already know about cardiopulmonary resuscitation/CPR, but resuscitation may also include using electric shock – the procedure used if your heart has stopped beating. Your California Living Will determines the conditions for which you want to be resuscitated.
- Food and Water – If you are gravely ill or permanently unconscious, you will not survive without food and water. Unless you specify that food and water should be withheld, medical professionals will use intravenous (IV) feeding or tube feeding to provide you with nutrients to survive. While IV feeding is a temporary solution, tube feeding can be administered indefinitely.
- Palliative (Pain) Care – If you do not wish to have life-prolonging treatment, you do not need to pass in pain. Palliative care involves medications that can help you remain as comfortable as possible until life ends naturally.
- Ventilation – A mechanical ventilator can help you breathe if you are unable to do so, and you should consider if you want to use a ventilator, in what circumstances, and for what period of time. All of this can be declared in your California Living Will form.
- Organ and Tissue Donation – If you are an organ donor, it is ideal to specify which organs and tissues you might wish to donate in your California Living Will form, even if you have it denoted on your driver’s license or in estate documents. Why? Because some organs and tissues require you to be on life-prolonging treatment until the organ or tissue transfer is complete.
- Donating Your Body – If you plan to donate your body for research, you may want to contact local medical schools or body donation programs to find out what details you need. You should then specify that in your Living Will for California.
A California Living Will Form should also address whether you wish to receive drugs for treatment, including antibiotics, if physicians should continue with dialysis in the event that your kidneys fail, and many other circumstances.
If you are planning to create a Living Will for California, it is a very good idea to consult with a physician and an estate planning attorney about what your options are so they can answer any questions you may have.
Revoke or Change a California Living Will Form
Ultimately, don’t forget that you can change or revoke a California Living Will at any point. If you learn of a new medical diagnosis, your wishes may change depending on how you feel about the diagnosis and the course of treatment. You might also want to change your California Living Will if you change your Medical Power of Attorney, particularly if your marital status changes.
Sometimes people simply have a change of heart about how they feel their incapacitated care should be handled, and that’s fine too. These are difficult decisions to make, and they do not need to be permanent. You may even want to take time to review them every four or five years to ensure they are in line with your values.