Nolo's California Health Care Directive FAQ

Can I use this form if I do not live in California?

Nolo’s California Health Care Directive is for people who expect to use it in California. You can make this form if you live in another state, but only if you expect to receive medical care in California.

This California Advance Directive may be valid in other states, and it may help convey your wishes. However, it will not be familiar to health care practitioners in other states, and it may cause confusion about your wishes because the laws of other states may give different meanings to the terms in this document.

If you expect to receive medical care in a state other than California, make a health care directive specifically designed for that state. You can get health care directives from a local attorney, your doctor, or a hospital.

You can also consider making a health care directive using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker. With WillMaker, you can make detailed health care directives (living wills and powers of attorney) that comply with your state's laws.

Can I make health care directives for more than one state?

If during the course of the year, you live in more than one state or if you plan to get medical care in a state other than your state of residence, you may wonder if you should make health care directives for each of those states.

Unfortunately, the solution to this difficulty is not as simple as making a set of documents for each state. Often, you can't have two documents simultaneously in force because creating a new health care document will often revoke an older one.

If you have concerns about this issue, get help from an attorney.

Does Nolo use California’s statutory form for its health care directive?

Nolo’s California Health Care Directive is based on and closely resembles California Probate Code Section 4701. California does not require the use of its statutory form, but using a form that is familiar to California health care providers should help make your wishes clear.

In several ways, Nolo’s form goes above and beyond what the statutory form provides. Primarily, we provide helpful information and guidance as you complete your form. Some of these health care issues are tricky, and filling out the flat form (without help) leaves many people wondering whether they’ve done it right. Nolo provides clear help to make sure you understand every question so that you can provide the answer that is right for you.

Also, the statutory form provides a few blank spaces for you to fill in your wishes, and Nolo’s version of the form creates plenty of space for you to convey all of your thoughts. We’ll even prompt you on a few issues so that you can get a sense of what might go in those blank spaces.

What issues does this form cover?

This form covers the following issues straight from the California statutory form:

  • your name and address
  • the name and address of your agent (and alternates)
  • whether you want your agent’s authority to go into effect immediately
  • limitations on your agent’s authority over your health care
  • limitations on your agent’s post-death authority
  • your choice about whether you want your life prolonged in three specific dire situations
  • whether you want to limit how doctors relieve your pain
  • “other” instructions for your health care
  • whether you want to donate your organs, tissues, or parts
  • if you do, which ones and for what purposes, and
  • the name of your primary physician.

Additionally, Nolo will prompt you for information about (all optional):

  • the location of the care you receive
  • your personal or religious values
  • your wishes for palliative care, and
  • any other wishes.

Nolo will also ask you additional questions about your agent’s postdeath authority. For example, should your agent have authority to make decisions (following your instructions) about

  • organ, tissue, and parts donations
  • autopsy
  • burial and cremation, and
  • any additional postdeath issues.

Does this form provide a health care power of attorney and a living will?

Essentially, yes. This form helps you:

  • appoint a trusted person to make medical decisions for you (the form to do this is often called a ‘health care power of attorney’)
  • convey instructions for your own health care (the form to do this is often called a ‘living will’).

California combines these two forms into one form, called an ‘advance health care directive.”

Each state has decided what its health care forms will be called. You can learn more about health care directive terminology in this article about types of health care directives.

Can I make this form for someone else?

No, you cannot make this form for another person, but you can help that person make the form for themselves.

The person must be of sound mind and must direct the answers to the form. But you can do the job of reading the questions, typing in the answers, producing the document, and helping acquire witnesses or a notary.

If you are helping someone else prepare health care documents and that person is too ill or weak to sign them, you or another person may sign the documents at his or her direction. The person making the document and the signer should appear together in front of the witnesses and/or notary, so that someone can observe the signing and confirm, if it is ever necessary, that it is what the document maker wanted and directed.