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Advance Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney

San Diego Estate Planning and Healthcare Document Attorney

There are two important documents which every person should have on file with their healthcare providers: the Advance Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney.

Many people falsely believe these are the same document. The Advance Health Care Directive and the Durable Power of Attorney are separate legal instruments. Each document serves a specific purpose to support you during any routine healthcare visit, in the event of an unexpected event or emergency, as you confront a long term illness or if you are facing any form of dementia or Alzheimer’s complication.

Many spouses are surprised to learn they are unable to discuss the condition of their husband or wife or any of their healthcare related issues. The existence of a marriage or domestic partnerships does not legally establish the opportunity to discuss healthcare related matters with those treating a spouse or significant other.

This is why it is so important to work with the experienced trust and estate planning attorneys at Allen Barron, Inc. We work to ensure your intentions and directives are captured in legal documents which serve as instructions for how you prefer to be cared for (or not). These documents empower person(s) who will have the ability to discuss and provide insight into your medical treatment and/or the authority to make important healthcare related decisions.

What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

The Advance Health Care directive is a legal and enforceable document in which the patient declares their wishes regarding many aspects of medical care in the event they are no longer able to speak for themselves. It may also give authority for another person you trust to speak on your behalf during the stress, symptoms and medication impact of a healthcare related event.

If “this type of event occurs” I do/don’t want to be resuscitated. If “that” type of event happens I do/don’t want life support (IV feeding/hydration, ventilator, etc.) or heroic means used to preserve my life.

It allows you to determine steps which may be taken if the illness is considered to be a “recoverable condition” versus a situation which offers much less hope or a terminal prognosis. This can often be a very fine line.

However, the Advance Health Care Directive does not provide anyone with the legal authority to make important decisions regarding your healthcare or associated financial matters.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

The durable power of attorney for health care designates a trusted person (known as your “agent”) to make all medical, healthcare and financially related decisions on the patient’s behalf. The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care may also contain specific additional instructions for the type of medical treatment you wish to receive or decline.

The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care authorizes your agent to speak on your behalf, have access to your medical records, schedule medical appointments, be included in medical conferences and decision making and handle financial and billing issues.

Your agent can make important decisions on your behalf, including but not limited to:

  • The administration of specific procedures or medications
  • Who may access your health care records and charts
  • Whether to admit or discharge you from a hospital, extended care facility or nursing home
  • Whether or not to continue or cease life support

You Need to Have Both an Advance Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney

It is important to have both an Advance Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney either as separate documents or as part of your living will or estate plan.

Your desire to be an organ or tissue donor may be contained within either document, but is usually contained within the advanced directive.

These documents may not be required by your healthcare provider, but every major medical system in the United States strongly encourages their patients to create and provide these important instructions and authoritative documents.

What is a Designated Personal Representative?

Do you wish for your spouse, domestic partner or significant other to family member to be able to discuss your condition with healthcare providers? A Designated Personal Representative is a person you have authorized to speak with healthcare providers to discuss your condition and treatment.

The designation of a personal representative allows the medical professional or facility to discuss Private Healthcare Information (known as “PHI”) with your spouse/partner/loved one.

This is an important convenience for you as a patient, but it does not provide your loved one with any of the authorities provided for in the either an Advance Health Care Directive or a Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care.



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Offices of Allen Barron, Inc.

Main Office

16745 West Bernardo Drive, Suite 260
San Diego, CA 92127
Phone: 858-304-0947
Phone: 866-631-3470
Fax: 858-376-1410

San Diego Office

5720 Oberlin Drive
San Diego, CA 92121
Phone: 866-631-3470
Fax: 760-741-1410

Las Vegas Office

333 South Sixth Street, Suite 230
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Phone: 702-749-4430
Fax: 702-933-1748

San Diego Office

750 B Street, Suite 2610
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-702-8356
Fax: 619-923-8356

San Francisco Office

300 Montgomery Street, Suite 410
San Francisco, CA 94101
Phone: 415-481-0475
Fax: 415-762-1539

Phoenix Office

40 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone: 602-903-7018
Fax: 602-357-1655