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  • Gabriel B. Lenhart

Who Will Take Care of You?

This question looms in the back of our minds and enters our consciousness more and more as we get older. For those with family members, the response is typically an easy one, or is it? For the lucky ones, declines in health take place gradually and are foreseeable enough to make arrangements in preparation. However, for others, there can be a rapid decline or even a single event that leaves you unable to care for yourself like you used to. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken whereby you can make arrangements for just such an event and ensure that your loved ones have the power to act on your behalf to manage your health care and finances.

In California, there are many laws designed to protect your financial and health care records from others, but many people are unaware that these same laws prevent even your spouse from acting on your behalf with regards to your finances or healthcare decisions. Unfortunately, these protections can result in the bankrupting of your family if catastrophic care is needed and you haven’t made arrangements for anyone to act on your behalf. Without these arrangements, your family will be unable to accomplish the crisis planning necessary or to cease healthcare in the event of a permanent vegetative state or irreversible coma.

By utilizing documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive, you may appoint one or multiple people to act on your behalf with regards to finances and healthcare decisions if you are ever incapacitated. Many people are unaware of the flexibility of these documents: how they may be limited to certain tasks such as filing taxes or paying bills or may be expansive; how they may be designed to only spring to life if a something occurs such as incapacity; and how they may also authorize your agents to dispose of your remains in the manner you direct.

Luckily, with a small amount of foresight and planning, arrangements can be made to have your spouse or adult child manage your finances and make health care decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to make those decisions for yourself. In California, it is remarkably easy to make arrangements for an adult guardianship if anything catastrophic were to ever happen to you. Regardless of what stage of life you are in, documents such as these are necessary to protect not only yourself, but the well-being of your family if something were to ever happen to you.

Please note that this article is a general summary of law and omits many important details, footnotes, and caveats. It is no substitute for legal advice from a lawyer based on your particular circumstances.

For more information or to speak with a lawyer, please call us at (530) 268-5485, visit our website,, or send us an email at

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