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Attorney: Don't forget about advance health care directives during coronavirus response

Make important health decisions before you can't speak for yourself in the hospital, even if you're not elderly.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — While navigating the uncertain time during America’s coronavirus response, planning is key.

While people stock up on supplies and check their retirement funds, attorneys say don’t forget about important medical documents that spell out your wishes should you ever end up in the hospital and can’t speak for yourself.

If people don’t stay at home, state projections estimate 56% of Californians would get coronavirus, of that, 20% would require hospitalization within eight weeks. This has forced many to think about what could happen in the worst-case-scenario.

“You certainly don’t want your family at the hospital trying to decide what they should do in a catastrophic situation,” said Colleen Watters, a Sacramento-area Estate Planning Attorney.

Watters said it's important for people to establish or update their advance health care directives and powers of attorney now.

“It’s your way of telling your family what you truly want,” she said.

Advance directives allow you to decide whether or not you want to stay on life support, donate organs, and who can make decisions for you. Waters said it isn’t just for the elderly and everyone over the age of 18 should prepare. She has seen parents run into federal health care privacy laws which can impede parents making decisions for adult children.

"Health care directives are very easy to create and fill out," Watters explained. "You don't have to be an attorney for that."

You can find these forms online and at your hospital. Planning ahead now can ease times should the worst-case scenario ever play out.

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