More Americans than ever have come to appreciate the peace of self-directing their own medical care and treatment. Knowing they have a say in their healthcare, whether sick or healthy, gives people a sense of lasting empowerment.
Those diagnosed with a severe or terminal illness can create a document called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST. It informs healthcare providers about the treatments you want and those you reject when approaching the end of life.
Does a POLST replace other medical documents?
No, a POLST is not an estate planning document. It is a form severely ill or terminal patients fill out describing their healthcare wishes. You and your doctor or someone else from your medical team must sign the document to make it legally binding. Once in place, all healthcare providers in California, including emergency medical technicians, must abide by your treatment wishes.
A POLST lets you choose whether you want:
- Artificial hydration and nutrition
- Aggressive or intense treatments
- Mechanical ventilation or breathing
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR
While a POLST can prevent you from receiving unwanted treatments, adding advance medical directives to your estate plan gives you even more control.
What else do you need?
To ensure your estate plan meets all your healthcare needs, consider including a living will or a power of attorney for medical care. These documents allow you to assign a trusted representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. They also allow you to define other components of your healthcare in the case of incapacitation.
Someone experienced with California estate planning laws can guide you in creating documents that protect your assets, your loved ones and your healthcare wishes.