Finalizing an Advance Directive for Health Care in California

In California, you must have your advance directive notarized or signed by two witnesses.

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In California, your health care directive is called an Advance Directive for Health Care. After you create your advance directive, you must sign your document and have it either signed by two witnesses or notarized.

If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:

  • your health care agent
  • your health care provider
  • an employee of your health care provider
  • the operator of a community care facility
  • an employee of a community care facility
  • the operator of a residential care facility for the elderly, or
  • an employee of a residential care facility for the elderly.

In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption—and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.

Finally, if you are in a skilled nursing facility, the document must also be witnessed by a patient advocate or ombudsman. (This requirement applies whether the document is witnessed or notarized.)

After you have your advance directive witnessed or notarized, it is legally valid. Keep the original in your files and give a copy to your health care agent, if you named one. To ensure that you get the health care that you want, it’s a good idea to make your wishes widely known. So, you might also consider giving copies of your advance directive to your physician, your hospital, your HMO or other insurance plan, and trusted family members and friends.

Review your document every few years to make sure that it still reflects your wishes. Also, consider making new documents if you move to another state, get married or divorced, or if your health care agenet is no longer able to supervise your wishes.

Your properly finalized document will stay in effect until you revoke it, if you ever choose to do so. You can revoke your document at any time. The best way to revoke your advance directive is to do it in writing. If possible, also collect and tear up all copies that you may have distributed to others. Finally, tell everyone who knows about your advance directive that you have revoked it.

Learn more about Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.

Learn more about California’s Advance Directive for Health Care.

When you make an advance directive with Quicken WillMaker Plus, it will conform to all of California’s advance directive laws and it will print with plain English instructions that detail how to make it legal.

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