Every adult in California would benefit from having an estate plan. Even those who think about their dependents and their future deaths often stop after creating a will that explains what to do with their property or names a guardian for their children. They may not engage in more extensive planning to protect themselves in the event of a medical emergency.
Advance medical directives are among the most important documents people can include in their estate plans. Your directive lets you decide now what health care you receive in the future. There are two compelling benefits to putting an advance directive in place now while you are healthy and able to make legally binding decisions.
Your ethics and preferences determine your care
When you do not leave any guidance for medical care providers or family members, then doctors will likely simply follow best practices given your diagnosis.
If you belong to a religion that does not allow blood transfusions or takes a dim view of medications developed using embryonic tissue, you may have strong feelings about certain kinds of medical care. If addiction runs in your family, you may worry that doctors will give you too much pain relief.
You have the option of exploring these decisions and making preferences clear for both the medical professionals caring for you and the loved ones who have the authority to act on your behalf.
You can take the pressure off of the people who love you
Only rare situations require other people to make medical decisions on your behalf. You may have collapsed from a sudden cardiac event while attending a school sports function for your child or experienced a massive injury at work.
Your closest family members will be in an intensely emotional state following your medical incapacitation. They may feel fear about making the wrong decision regarding your medical care. Even if you talk about your preferences with them now, they may have trouble recalling those discussions in a particularly stressful time. Written directions leave nothing to chance and give your family members the confidence to know they will comply with your preferences.
Adding an advance medical directive to your estate plan will help you and possibly protect the people you love if you ever experienced an emergency.