California End-of-Life Decisions

  • Posted on: May 24 2021
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There are a lot of difficult aspects of estate planning, but perhaps one of the most difficult is admitting to our own mortality. No one wants to think about the end of his or her life, but it’s important that you look at all of your options. Everyone should be entitled to live and die according to his or her wishes. This is where Advance Health Care Directives and end-of-life decisions come into play. 

When it comes to end-of-life decisions, we each have two options:

  • choose to prolong life
  • choose not to prolong life.  

Some people wish to receive heroic life-saving efforts no manner their condition, while others would never want to exist in certain states of being.

Advance Health Care Directives

Advance Health Care Directives include the following language:

“I direct that my health care providers and others involved in my care provide, withhold, or withdraw treatment in accordance with the choice I have marked below:

1. Choice Not to Prolong Life

I do not want my life to be prolonged if:

  • I have an incurable and irreversible condition that will result in my death within a relatively short time
  • I become unconscious and, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, I will not regain consciousness, or
  • the likely risks and burdens of treatment would outweigh the expected benefits, OR

2. Choice to Prolong Life

I want my life to be prolonged as long as possible within the limits of generally accepted health care standards.”

Specifying Your Wishes 

While these options may seem a bit impersonal, everyone has the right to specify whatever instructions he or she chooses regarding any part of their health care. This is irrelevant of whether or not you have chosen to appoint an agent. You have the right to choose which treatments you would specifically like to receive as well as the type of pain management you would like. Furthermore, you can add additional comments regarding your wishes. Some people who appoint agents choose to let their agents make all of these decisions for them.

One of the more confusing issues regarding end-of-life care is that nowhere in the Advance Medical Directive does it explain what an incurable or irreversible condition would be nor what constitutes a reasonable degree of medical certainty as to whether someone will regain their consciousness. 


California is one of 14 states that have adopted a program called Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). POLST, which is a document that must be signed by both patient and doctor, serves to accompany one’s Advance Health Care Directive. The document specifies whether someone is to receive antibiotics or to be put on a feeding tube or breathing machine.

The Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC Help those Who Wish to Plan for the Long-Term

If you or your loved one live in California and wish to plan for your long-term future it’s in your best interest to consult with a qualified California estate planning attorney. He or she can ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones won’t be emotionally burdened with having to make these decisions on your behalf.

At the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC, we know how important it is to plan for the future and to have your wishes met. We will help you to establish a comprehensive estate plan with an Advance Health Care Directive that specifies these wishes. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Estate Planning