What is the Ombudsman’s Role as a Witness?
Probate Code Section 4675
If an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) is created while a person is in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)*, for it to be valid, the document must be witnessed by an Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s role is to make sure that the resident understands the document; wants to create the document and that their desires are correctly depicted in the document. In order to serve as a witness for an AHCD, the Ombudsman must be registered with the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
Why Ombudsman Participation?
Due to concerns about potential exploitation of residents in SNF’s, legislation was passed in California to prevent residents from being coerced into signing documents related to their care that were not in their best interests. Similarly, residents who fear retaliation for refusing to sign a document can be easily intimidated by those on whom they are dependent for care and emotional support.
Preparing for the Ombudsman Witness
Prior to the Ombudsman visit, the resident should have the document explained to them by a Social Services Designee (SSD) or a proposed health care agent(s).
Property Transfers: Ombudsman Role to Witness
Health and Safety code, Section 1289 prohibits certain parties (an owner, employee, agent, or consultant of a long-term health care facility or members of his/her immediate family OR a representative of a public agency operating withing the long-term health care facility with state, county or city authority, or a member of his/her immediate family from purchasing or receiving property with a fair market value of more than $100 from a resident of a long-term health care facility, unless the transaction is made in the presence of a representative of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
* Please note that ombudsman do not witness AHCD’s in any other facility type and do not witness financial powers of attorney.