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Why you need an advance directive for health care

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Estate Planning

Because people often associate estate planning with detailing how their assets will be distributed to heirs and other beneficiaries when they pass away, too many fail to put any estate plan documents in place until their senior years. A crucial part of estate planning, however, involves planning for the possibility that you could become seriously injured or ill and be unable to make decisions for yourself.

Adults of all ages should have an advance directive for health care. They should also designate a health care agent with power of attorney (POA) that allows them to talk with a person’s medical team and advocate for their wishes as detailed in their advance directive.

What can an advance directive do for you and your family?

An important part of this document involves designating what kind of end-of-life and life-prolonging care you want to have (or don’t want) if you have a terminal condition or catastrophic injury from which you won’t recover. This can save your family from wondering or battling over what you would want.

By designating a health care agent, you can give one person the authority to make the final decisions based on your advance directive. This, too, will save family disputes and even potential court battles.

Selecting your health care agent

This is a very important responsibility. It’s crucial to make sure that the person you choose understands and would feel comfortable advocating for your wishes. You also want to choose someone who is calm under pressure and won’t be intimidated by doctors or family members.

Taking these crucial estate planning steps requires more than putting the appropriate documents in place. You need to make sure that the right people have copies. That includes your primary care physician and possibly other doctors and medical facilities. Your health care agent should also have a copy. With sound legal guidance as you draw up your advance directive for health care, you can help ensure that it serves your purposes.