California's End of Life Option Act Provisions Yet to Take Effect | Law Firm Newswire

California’s End of Life Option Act Provisions Yet to Take Effect

Roseville, CA (Law Firm Newswire) March 16, 2016 - Last fall, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law an End of Life Option Act, which has not yet taken effect. Brown said he decided to sign the bill after he envisioned himself with a terminal illness.

It is unknown when the new law will become effective. Reports have stated that it could take effect by April 2016, or by March 1, 2017. As a result of California’s passage of the bill, it has been predicted that eventually, one in 10 Americans will reside in a state that has a right-to-die choice, which is also referred to as a death with dignity option. According to the law, a terminally ill patient has the choice to decrease the suffering associated with an unavoidable death. The process is referred to as aid-in-dying, and the medication that is prescribed to end a person’s life is called aid-in-dying medication.

Several people have objected to the new law for religious or moral reasons. However, it is important for people, including attorneys, to understand the ramifications of the new law because attorneys who practice estate planning often deal with people who are in excruciating pain. The end of life option law differs from an assisted suicide law in that it mandates that doctors can only prescribe lethal drugs, which are required to be administered by the patient.
And it differs from right-to-die in that the latter refers to the instructions a person gives concerning his or her own medical care, including the refusal of life-sustaining treatment when unconscious or near death. Such instructions can be set forth in an advanced health care directive.

“Everyone, including terminally ill patients and their families, should make certain that their affairs are in order, and make arrangements to create a will, trust, and a plan to manage their end-of-life care,” said prominent Roseville, California, estate planning attorney David Wade.

There are many requirements for requesting aid-in-dying medication in California. The patient must be a minimum of 18 years old, and reside in California. In addition, the patient must display mental capacity, and make two verbal requests to the physician, and the requests must be made a minimum of 15 days apart from each other. There must also be a written request to the physician, signed by the patient before two adult witnesses. The prescribing physician and another physician must be in agreement regarding the patient’s diagnosis, and must believe that it is terminal, and that the patient has less than six months to live. If either physician has concerns about whether the patient has the mental capacity to make this decision, the physician can refer the patient to a mental health specialist.

Furthermore, the prescribing physician has to apprise the patient of any reasonable alternatives to the medication, such as care to alleviate the pain and maintain the comfort level of the patient. The physician must ask that the patient inform their closest family member of the request for aid-in-dying medication, and must give the patient the chance to withdraw the request for such medication prior to giving the prescription. No other person is allowed to make a request for such medication on behalf of the patient.

Wade Law Offices
2400 Professional Drive
Suite 100
Roseville, CA 95661
Phone: (800) 835-2634

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