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Quickly create your California health care directive

You can complete FindLaw’s attorney-created health care directive forms in less than an hour at home. Our guided process takes you through a few easy steps and includes a free HIPAA release form. You’ll be able to download, print and sign your documents in no time.

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California health care directive options to suit your needs

Health Care Directive

For One Person

A do-it-yourself health care directive that’s easy to personalize.

What’s included:
What’s included
Step-by-step guided process
A health care directive tailored to your needs
Attorney-approved document compliant with your state’s laws
Free HIPAA release form
Free changes and revisions to your document for up to a full year after purchase


Estate Planning Package

For One person

All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan

What’s included:
What’s included
Last will and testament
Health care directive
Power of attorney
Free HIPAA release form
A comprehensive plan — for less
Free changes and revisions for up to one year after purchase

Still not sure what estate planning tools you need?

Attorney-approved California health care directives

If you ever face a terminal medical condition and become unable to communicate your own medical decisions, your family and medical providers may not know which treatments you would want to request or refuse. If you have strong feelings about end-of-life treatment, or simply want to spare your loved ones from making these difficult decisions for you, you should create a health care directive. A health care directive empowers you to make medical choices in advance.


Written by:

Kimberly Lekman, Esq.

Contributing Author

Reviewed by:

John Devendorf, Esq.

Contributing Author

How it works

Create your health care directive in under an hour

Create an account

Create a secure account which is accessible through an easy dashboard you can access any time

Gather information

Decide who will be your health care agent/proxy, which treatments you would request or refuse and release your records

Complete your document

Answer all questions, then we’ll generate your digital documents for downloading, printing, and signing

Make it legal

Print and sign your document according to instructions. Give copies to your doctors and agent/proxy

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Plan for your future with confidence

This free guide will help you:

  • Learn the most common estate planning terms

  • Understand the essential estate planning tools

  • Gather critical information with an estate planning checklist

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What’s next to make my California health care directive valid?

Validate your health care directive by following these steps:

Make decisions about your medical treatment

A health care directive is a type of legal document called an “advance health care directive” (or “advance directive“). You can use it to specify which medical treatments you would accept and which you would refuse if you become unable to make your health care decisions for yourself. You can also make your wishes about organ donation known. As part of your health care directive, you need to consider whether you would prefer the administration or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment that only serves to prolong natural death. If you have a difficult time making this decision, it may be helpful to talk it over with your loved ones and a trusted doctor.

Choose your health care agent

Under California’s Health Care Decisions Law, you have the right to nominate someone as your health care agent. They can make medical decisions for you if you ever become medically incapacitated. You can choose this person by executing a durable power of attorney for health care (a “POA”). Both a health care directive, and power of attorneys for health care are types of advance directives.

You should select a health care agent who is familiar with your health care preferences, and your opinions on end-of-life care. You should also talk to them to make sure that they are willing to carry out the terms of your health care directive. Many people choose a close friend, spouse, or other close family member for this role.

Sign your advance directives

You should sign and date your advance directives or direct another adult to do so for you. There should either be two adult witnesses present when you sign, or you should acknowledge your signature to a notary public.

If you choose to have witnesses sign your advance directives, you should be aware of the following legal restrictions. The witnesses must sign your advance directives after watching you sign. They must also swear to a legal statement that is available in the California statutes.

The following individuals may not act as witnesses:

  • Your health care provider or their employee
  • Your health care agent
  • An operator or employee of a community or residential care facility

Further, one of your witnesses must be someone who is not related to you and does not stand to inherit from you. That witness must sign a statement verifying that fact.

Note that if you are a patient in a skilled nursing facility, there are special requirements for your health care directive. You will need to have a patient advocate or ombudsman witness your health care directive even if you have it notarized.

Distribute and store your health care directive

After signing your document, you need to make sure it gets into the right hands. Most importantly, you should make sure to provide your health care agent with a copy of your health care directive. This will help them to understand your wishes for health care and provides them with a document they can reference if needed.

Next, be sure to supply your health care providers with copies of your health care directive that they can enter into your medical record. Your close loved ones should have a copy too in case they accompany you during a medical emergency.

Finally, you may want to consider storing your health care directive in California’s advance health care directive registry. This will allow your medical providers and caretakers to request access to your document if necessary. The health care registry also allows you to make a note of the location of your advance directive. If you prefer, you can do this instead of providing them with the actual document.

Update your health care directive

Once your health care directive is complete, it’s important to review it at least every few years to make sure that it continues to reflect your preferences. If you have gone through any major life changes, you may want to review your estate planning documents (including your health care directive) sooner.

The type of significant life events that may cause you to rethink your health care directive include:

  • A new diagnosis
  • Divorce
  • Death of a loved one
  • An interstate move

If these or other changes occur in your life, you may need to replace your health care agent or update your documents to comply with the laws of your new state of residence. You can rest assured that if you purchase a health care directive through FindLaw, you can make unlimited updates for a year after purchase.

You may want to speak with a lawyer if:

  • Your family disagrees with your medical choices
  • You don’t know who to appoint as your agent
  • You have questions about life prolonging measures
  • You want legal review of your completed document
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Ready to start your California health care directive?

Create my health care directive

Common questions about California health care directives

Under California law, there are certain basic rules that you must follow to create a valid health care directive:

  • You must be an adult
  • You must have the mental capacity to give health care instructions
  • You must sign and date the document
  • There should be two witnesses present when you sign, or you should acknowledge your signature to a notary public.

The restrictions on witness choices are covered in more detail in the steps above. Generally, your health care agent and anyone who is involved with your health care may not witness your health care directive. Further, one of the witnesses must sign a statement acknowledging that they are not related to you and will not inherit from you.

Finally, if you are a patient in a skilled nursing facility, California law requires that a patient advocate or ombudsman must sign your health care directive as a witness. This is true even if your document is notarized.

Yes, an out-of-state advance directive is valid if it was created in accordance with the laws of that state or is in compliance with California laws. However, if you have recently completed a permanent move to California, it may be a good time to update your estate plan and make sure it complies with California law.

Yes. Through a durable health care power of attorney (a “POA”), you can name a health care agent. This person will make medical choices for you if you ever become incapacitated and unable to make them for yourself. According to California’s health care laws, your health care agent’s legal authority to make medical decisions for you would terminate if you recover the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Your health care agent’s legal duty is to carry out the terms of your health care directive and to make medical decisions that are in your best interest. When you choose someone for this role, you should make sure to discuss your treatment preferences with them. You should also talk to them to make sure that they are willing to take on this role. This person may need to be assertive to advocate for your health care wishes with medical staff and family members.

Technically, yes. California law permits electronic advance directives. But there are special rules associated with them. Just as with any advance directive, you must sign electronic versions. Further, your digital signature must comply with California’s digital signatures law or it must use technology approved by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

If you are not fully confident that the system you are using complies with these standards, it is a better idea to sign a health care directive on a hard copy. With FindLaw, you can create a health care directive to print and sign in at home about an hour.

A divorce does not revoke the directions in your health care directive. But if you named your spouse as your health care agent, a divorce legally revokes this designation. If you should happen to remarry your former spouse, this would reinstate their designation as your health care agent.

If you have gone through a divorce, it is a good time to review your estate plan. This includes your advance directives. After a divorce, you may wish to add or remove beneficiaries from your will. Of course, you may also want to name a new health care agent if you had previously chosen your spouse for that role.

California’s health care laws allow you to revoke your health care directive in any manner and at any time. An effective way to revoke a health care directive is by creating a new one that explicitly revokes all prior documents. FindLaw can help you create a new health care directive in about 30 minutes to an hour without even needing to leave the comfort of home.

If you named a health care agent through a POA, you can only revoke this designation through another signed writing or by notifying your supervising health care provider.

Whether you simply revoke your advance directives or create new ones, you should make sure to inform the right people of this change. Your health care agent should know when they have been replaced, first of all. You should then let your loved ones and health care providers know that you have changed your advance directives. This will ensure that they have your most current preferences at hand if they should need to use them. Finally, if you stored your advance directives with California’s advance health care directive registry, you should contact them to update your records.

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