Santa Clarita Estate Planning Attorney Robert Mansour Discusses Advance Health Care Directives. Remember, in California, we no longer have a "Living Will" - Our legal document that allows your chosen agents to make health care decisions on your behalf is called an "Advance Health Care Directive" - some states still call it a living will. To add to the confusion, some people still confuse a "Living Will" with a "Living Trust." They are entirely separate documents that address entirely different things.
An agent named in your Advance Health Care Directives not only is involved in "pull the plug" decisions, but also has the power to hire/fire doctors, handle home health care assistants, obtain medical records, advocate for you, go to court on your behalf, handle post death wishes, sign a DNR order, and much more. The more specific your document is, the better. Keep in mind, if there is a dispute in your family as to what should be done, the person named as your agent has the legal authority to act consistent with your wishes. The more specific you are in your document, the better it is for your agent. They don't have to wonder what you want! Also, if your wishes are spelled out, then it will be tougher for family to challenge the decisions of your agent. After all, they are simply following your instructions.