End Of Life Option Act – Basic Overview

Hi there. My name is Bridget Mackay. I’m an attorney in Petaluma, California. I practice in the area of estate planning and elder law. You have joined me now for my first part in my four-part series about the End of Life Options Act that California will be implementing June 9th of 2016.

My first part is going to be covering the basics of this act. The act allows that if a qualified individual who is an adult with the capacity to make medical decisions and with a terminal disease they may make a request to receive a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug if all the following conditions are satisfied.

The first condition is, the individual’s attending physician, your regular doctor, has diagnosed you with a terminal disease with which you are likely to die within six months.

The second part, or the second requirement, is the individual has voluntarily expressed the wish to receive a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug. These requests can be made orally to your physician but they must be made 15 days apart.

The third requirement is, this individual has to establish that they’re a resident of California.

The fourth, the individual documents his or her request by two witnesses, only one of whom can be a family member. You have to ask twice, and then you have to make a written request. The state has developed a form for this. The state request form is titled “Request for an Aid-in-Dying Drug to End My Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner.” That’s an actual form that they would need to fill out. It can be witnessed… It needs to be witnessed by two people, only one of whom can be a family member.

The fifth requirement of the act is that the individual has the physical and mental ability to self-administer the aid-in-dying drug. In the act, it defines a terminal disease as an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will within reasonable medical judgment result in death within six months. That’s what terminal disease means for the act. What does medically confirmed mean? Well, in order for the disease to be medically confirmed, it needs to be diagnosed by both an attending physician and a consulting physician. You basically need two doctors to confirm. And medically confirmed means those two doctors need to give a medical diagnosis and prognosis and say that they’ve examined you and your relevant medical records to say that you satisfy terminal disease. It’s a terminal disease that will, reasonably you’ll die from within six months.

Those are the basics of the act. The next three series are going to be more about how is it implemented and what does it mean. So please stay tuned and find out what this earth-shattering law is going to mean to citizens in the State of California.

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