Advanced Health Care Directives

What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An advance directive is a legal document that explains how you want decisions about your medical care to be made if you cannot make the decisions yourself. It is used to guide your health care provider(s) and loved ones when they need to make decisions or to decide who will make decisions about your health care when you can’t. These decisions about your medical care might include special actions you may want like diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/or organ donation. Essentially, an advance directive helps you to think about what kind of medical care that you will want to have ahead of time.

Keep in mind that advance directives only apply to decisions about health care and do not affect financial decisions. It is best to talk to your doctor and/or lawyer about filling out your advance directive when you are healthy and able to make medical decisions for yourself – about yourself.

Did You Know That You Can Register Your Advance Health Care Directive?

You may not know it, but you are able to register your advance health care directive with the Secretary of State, as established by Probate Code section 4800. Your information can then be made available upon the request of your health care provider, public guardian, or legal representative. It’s important to note that any request for information must specifically state why it is needed.

If you would like to register your advance health care directive as part of the Secretary of State’s registry, simply attach a copy of it to your completed Registration of Written Advance Health Care Directive (PDF) and file it with the Secretary of State. Step by step instructions can be found on the California Secretary of State’s website. As an alternative to providing a copy of the written directive to the Secretary of State, you may state the location where it can be found on the registration form.

To get or create an advance health care directive form:

  • Contact your health care provider.
  • Consult with private legal counsel.
  • Refer to the Office of the Attorney General’s website.
  • Refer to Probate Code section 4701.

For more information regarding end-of-life care or estate planning, please contact the Office of the Attorney General.

For more information on how you can become an organ, eye or tissue donor, please contact Donate Life California.

Regulations Links

The California Secretary of State’s office has adopted regulations to implement Chapter 882, Statutes of 2004 (AB 2445 Cinciamilla), which amended Probate Code sections 47174800 and 4805, and Government Code section 6254.

The legislation requires the Secretary of State to:

  • Receive and release a person’s advance health care directive;
  • transmit the information to the registry of another jurisdiction upon request;
  • respond to a request for information received from the emergency department of a general acute care hospital; and
  • establish the fee for filing the advance health care directive or information relating to such directive.

The regulations were approved by the Office of Administrative Law on May 17, 2006, and the regulations were filed with the Secretary of State on that date. The regulations became effective on July 1, 2006.

Below are links to the Final Text of the Regulations as approved and filed on May 17, 2006, and the Final Statement of Reasons, as revised on May 17, 2006.
Final Text of Regulations (Rev. 05/17/06) (PDF)
Final Statement of Reasons (Rev. 05/17/06) (PDF)

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