Orange County Probate and Estate Planning Blog

What Is a Health Care Directive?

Posted by Mary G. Finlay | Mar 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

A health care directive is a document whereby you appoint an agent to make health care decisions for you should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. In the document, you specify under what circumstances you wish for your life to be sustained. The health care directive also can serve the purpose of permitting your health care providers to disclose sensitive information to certain individuals under HIPPA.


Not having a health care directive can lead to your relatives having to guess what you would have wanted or imposing their own views about under what circumstances your life should be sustained. Even worse, your relatives could fight about your treatment. Most people are familiar with the sad Shiavo family case. Terri Shiavo had an accident and was placed on life support. Her husband wanted to discontinue treatment because he insisted that she would have wished to have died with dignity and would not have wanted to live in a persistent vegetative state. Her parents disagreed and wanted to keep her on life support because they claimed that she would have fought for any chance to live in any condition. An ugly court battle ensued. Terri continued to live for twelve years while the fight raged on. If she had a health care directive, a lot of the upset and heartbreak (as well as the expense) could have been avoided.

Another recent news story highlighted the need for a current health directive. Lamar Odom and Chloe Kardashian were headed for divorce when Lamar became incapacitated. Although estranged from Chloe, as his wife, she continued to make health care decisions for him. Although it may have been what Lamar wanted, how many divorced couples would want their soon-to-be ex making those types of life or death decisions? Not many. This situation again illustrates the need for a current health care directive.


Not many young adults have health care directives in place. However, you can't be sure that you will be given confidential information if your adult child college student is incapacitated for some reason. HIPPA laws may prevent the health care providers from disclosing information to you. Any parent of an adult college student knows that the college will not disclose information about academics to the parents without the college student's permission (regardless of who is paying the bills). This can be the case with HIPPA protected information as well. Bottom line, every adult needs a health care directive.


The professionals at Finlay Law Group will listen to your concerns and implement a plan that is tailor made for your needs. If you have adult children who are willing to participate, the Finlay Law Group will prepare health care directives for your adult children as well as part of your plan at no extra cost.

About the Author

Mary G. Finlay

Orange County Estate Planning Lawyer When I was in law school, all my friends and family were so supportive and proud of me. Once I graduated from law school and passed the bar, however, I suddenly became a member of one of the most loathed professions in the world. Everyone clamored to tell me ...


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Finlay Law Group, APC Is Here for You

At Finlay Law Group, APC, our practice is limited to estate planning, probate, and trust administration, and we are here to listen and help you navigate the legal system.

Contact US Today

Finlay Law Group, APC is committed to answering your questions about estate planning, probate, and trust administration issues in Orange County.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Finlay Law Group, APC
4665 MacArthur Court, Suite 205
Newport Beach, CA 92660