IN this week’s column, we will address the Advance Health Care Directives (AHCD), also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. 

An AHCD allows you to plan and to ensure you get the medical care you would want in the event that you become incapacitated. 

First, the AHCD enables you to appoint a health care agent, who will have the legal authority to make healthcare decisions if you are no longer able to speak for yourself. 

Second, the AHCD allows you to create written instructions for your agent and specify what medical treatment you do or do not want if you lack the capacity to do so in the future.

In selecting a health care agent, you should choose a person that you trust such as a family member, spouse, partner or close friend. The person you choose should know your personal values and beliefs. If possible, you may want to choose someone who lives in your area in case they are called upon to direct your treatment for an extended period of time. It is very important to discuss your health care wishes with your agent and be sure he or she understands the responsibilities of a health care agent and is willing to act on your behalf. The agent you select will not be liable or responsible for any of your medical bills unless that person is already legally responsible for your debts. 

To give your healthcare agent (or another individual) authority over your financial affairs, you can do so through a separate legal procedure, such as Durable Power of Attorney for finance. 

Creating an AHCD is not only essential for people who are getting old or who are getting sick, but it is an important tool for everyone since unexpected situations may arise at any time. This document offers the best assurance that decisions regarding your medical care will reflect your own values and desires. It also eases the burden on your family from making difficult end-of-life choices. In situations where there is no AHCD, the person you want to make decisions on your behalf may not be able to do so and may need to go to the court to obtain legal authority, which is often a costly and time-consuming process.

Laws concerning advance directives vary from state to state. If you executed an advance directive in another state, you should also confirm that the document meets California’s legal requirements. If you would like assistance completing an AHCD or have questions about your situation, please contact Advancing Justice – L.A’s Tagalog helpline at (855) 300-2552.

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice – LA serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year.  Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice – LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice. For more information, please visit https://www.advancingjustice-la.org/. 

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