What Are Health Care Directives?

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Advance health care directives are important for all adult Americans.

People do not stay healthy forever.

Bodies either wear out over time or get beat down through injury or illness.

When this happens, people may not be able to express their own medical decisions.

According to a recent Forbes article titled “Two-Thirds of All Americans Are Missing This Estate Planning Document,” this is why advance health care directives are important.

Health care directives help your loves ones with your medical decisions.
Create health care directives before you need them.

What are advance health care directives?

These are legal documents that allow adults of sound mind to appoint agents to make medical decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.

In addition to appointing agents, advance health care directives allow an individual to provided specific instructions for the appointed agents.

This includes providing guidance regarding medical directions for end-of-life care.

In these documents you can even provide instructions when it comes the disposition of your remains after you pass away.

Advance health care directives include documents known by various names.

They could be called living wills, medical directives, or durable health care powers of attorney.

Historically, these legal documents are relatively new.

The first one was created in California in 1972.

All fifty states had similar laws by 1992.

This widespread adoption underscores the importance of advance health care directives.

Unfortunately, although all states have adopted this tool, only about a third of all adult Americans have one in place.


Do not be one of them.

Start by appointing an agent to make medical decisions in alignment with your wishes.

Often a spouse is the first option.

If a spouse in not a viable option, then select an adult child, other family member, or a trusted friend.

Typically, postmortem wishes are also carried out by the agent when you die.

These wishes include organ donations and funeral arrangements.

Health care directives are an essential component of every estate planning.

If you do not have yours in place, do so now.

Reference: Forbes (December 13, 2019) “Two-Thirds of All Americans Are Missing This Estate Planning Document”

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