While it is commonplace to consider estate planning as a step someone takes later in life, it is a safer bet to begin establishing planning documents as early as possible. Simply put, you never know when life can take an extreme turn. Accidents or illnesses can result in your incapacitation and professionals may deem you unable to make major decisions for yourself.
An advance health care directive is a document that will instruct doctors and other medical professionals about your medical decisions in the event that you are unable to do so. Such decisions may relate to the use of various medical equipment such as ventilators and artificial nutrition—or “tube feeding.”
Your directive may even include your CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) preferences. Additionally, if your incident or illness results in a coma, you may have preferences on how physicians treat your condition.
How to start your advance care directive
You can establish an advance care directive by drafting a living will and a durable medical power of attorney. Living wills are legally binding documents that go into effect when you become incapacitated. A durable medical power of attorney may establish authority to a “surrogate” who can make decisions on your behalf. It is best to decide on a surrogate whom you trust to make these decisions.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of drafting an advance care directive is the peace of mind one can provide. Ultimately, you do not know what the future will hold. But you can have control over your medical preferences.