A health care directive is a legal document on which you place instructions and wishes related to medical caregiving in the event of your death or incapacitation. It is not uncommon for a person to consider wills and trusts at some point in their life, especially if they have a family. But many people do not obtain a health care directive for inclusion in their estate plan.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of adults do not include important medical decisions as they plan for the future of their estate. As you ponder the future, consider these important reasons for working a health care directive into your plans:
1. Your medical decisions are your own
Perhaps most importantly, a health care directive will give you control over your medical decisions. As part of developing your directive, you will choose an agent to act on your behalf and ensure these medical decisions are in line with your wishes.
2. Your directive is in the hands of a person you trust
Often, people choose their spouse as their agent. However, you can choose anyone you trust to fulfill this vital role, such as a close friend or an adult child. Selecting this person to be your advocate during a time when you cannot make decisions for yourself may provide you with peace of mind you did not know you were missing.
3. Your agent’s actions on your behalf continue even after death
You may have your chosen agent make funeral arrangements, including religious rites and how your body should be handled. Health care directives can also provide you with control over organ/body donation.
Looking out for the needs of your loved ones and planning your assets accordingly is, of course, a vital step in planning for the unknown. As you develop your will, consider also the benefits of a health care directive and how one may benefit your future.