How does California’s End of Life Option Act Affect Your Estate Plan?
California’s Right to Die Act was born out of California resident, Brittany Maynard’s, decision to move to Oregon to take advantage of that state’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide, after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
On June 9, the California legislature passed into law the right of individuals, “who meet certain qualifications, and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, as defined, to make a request for a drug prescribed pursuant to these provisions for the purpose of ending his or her life.” (source: California Legislature Website)
The law also established guidelines for determining who can exercise this option and how. To take advantage of the End of Life Option, several criteria must be met, including the following:
The terminally-ill patient must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be a proven California resident
- Have a terminal illness, as certified by an attending physician and a consulting physician
- Have mental capacity to make his or her own healthcare decisions. (An agent appointed under a “living will” or advance healthcare directive cannot consent for an incapacitated patient.)
- Fully understand his or her medical condition, options, and the nature of the act
- Voluntarily request “a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug”
The patient must be able to self-administer the aid-in-dying drug:
- The patient’s choice must be properly documented
- The patient may have to undergo an examination by a mental health professional if the attending physician or the consulting physician feel there is any indication of mental infirmity, lack of understanding, or undue influence.
Frequently Asked Questions About California’s Right-to-Die Law and Your Living Trust:
Can I use my living trust or power of attorney to direct my Agent to authorize use of an aid-in-dying drug? No, only the patient can request the drug, and administer the drug.
Do I need to make any changes to my existing Living trust?No, but if you would like an End of Life Option you must fill out the “Request for an Aid-In-Dying Drug to End My Life in A Humane and Dignified Manner Form” and submit it to your Estate Planning Attorney. Download your form here.