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Why you should include an advance directive in your estate plan

No matter at what point you are in your life, planning for the future is necessary. If you are starting a family or your career is just taking off, it is time to think about what tomorrow will bring. Estate planning is something that you should start early and continuously update as things change. For example, you should update your will each time you have another child. Another part of estate planning that may be necessary is creating a health care proxy.

Since accidents can happen to anyone at any time, it is imperative to have a health care proxy in place. This document will specify your wishes regarding medical treatment if you should become incapacitated at any time. Read further to find out why you should establish a health care proxy sooner rather than later.

Choose someone to make decisions on your behalf

In general, a health care proxy allows you to choose someone you trust to oversee your health care needs and make medical decisions if you are unable to do so yourself. You can create the proxy as a larger advance directive that covers your wishes in terms of medical care. Most people choose a family member or trusted friend to act as a health care proxy. The important aspect is to select someone that you fully trust to carry out your wishes.

Create an advance directive

An advance directive is a legal document that addresses various aspects of your medical care. It can include items such as the health care proxy, a living will, and even a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) if you wish. In general, you can include a time limit for remaining on life support, whether or not you want a blood transfusion, or various other treatments. Your proxy will have to make decisions according to the terms you specified in the advance directive.

Limitations of an advance directive

While an advance directive can cover many medical situations, there some things that you cannot include. For example, you cannot request assisted suicide or any other treatment that would directly end your life. Also, the advance directive will not automatically keep your family members that disagree with your decisions from interfering.

Without a health care proxy or advance directive in place, you leave yourself open to other people's decisions in case you end up in a condition where you cannot decide for yourself. The benefits of creating a proxy are far greater than the risks of not having one in place.

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