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Legal Planning

 An Advance Health Care Directive is a pre-planning, legal document used as a tool within healthcare systems for communicating a person’s individual preferences regarding medical care. It can be completed as a part of a comprehensive trust/estate plan or a stand-alone document. For example, in California, an Advance Health Care Directive combines two documents, referenced as Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

The Advance Health Care Directive document accomplished two things:

  1. You name a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you need support or become incapable of making them for yourself. We often refer to the designated decision-maker as your healthcare agent or durable power of attorney for healthcare.
  2. You provide insight into your values, medical treatment preferences, and instructions that you wish to be carried out regarding your medical care and end-of-life care preferences.

Kaiser Permanente encourages all members over age 18 who can understand and complete the document to meet and discuss with their designated decision-makers. The opportunity to complete an Advance Health Care Directive allows the person to control future decision-making. The Kaiser Permanente Life Care Planning document can be found at this website:

Submitting a copy of the completed Advance Health Care Directive document is essential so that your medical providers will have access to your preferences when necessary.

Suppose an adult person becomes incapable of making medical decisions and does not have an Advance Health Care Directive. In this case, their family will likely face establishing a Conservatorship for the long-term management of their care. The appointed conservator can be a family member, friend, or professional whom the court deems most appropriate to appoint in this role.

Conservatorship is a court process in which the court deems a person as gravely disabled or incompetent to decide for themselves any longer. The court appoints a conservator or guardian to make decisions for a person and/or finances temporarily or long-term. It can take approximately 6-12 months to complete this process until deemed an emergency. The cost varies depending on the complexity of the circumstances.
It starts around $4,000 and up for this process with the help of an attorney. Then, the attorney files the request before a judge in a court hearing process. Please consult with an attorney or legal community resource to learn more about this option.

Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is a written medical order from a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant that helps to give people with serious illnesses control over their care by specifying the types of medical treatment they want to receive while living with a serious illness. The form must be signed by the patient or their designated decision-maker and a licensed physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to be valid. The POLST can be found at the following website

If you would like more information about any of these documents, please discuss them with your provider or ask to speak with a social worker.