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Out of all the items you want to have in your estate plan, one of the most important is your health care directive. An advance directive, also known as a health care directive, is a written document that tells others your health care wishes if you are unable to communicate those wishes yourself.

Having a health care directive is important because it takes the guesswork out of knowing what you would want to see happen in certain situations. For example, you may state that you don't want to be given life-extending treatments if you are suffering from a terminal illness. Your directive can state the kinds of treatment that you want to be given as well.

Are health care directives only for the elderly?

While the elderly are most likely to have these documents, they're actually a good idea for anyone to have. Why? Anyone can get hurt or fall ill at any time. Whether you're 20, 50 or 75, the reality is that you can't be certain when you'll end up in the hospital and need someone else to make medical decisions without your input.

Along with your health care directive, you should set up a medical power of attorney. The person you choose will be able to make decisions on your behalf so that you can rest easy knowing that they are keeping your best interests at heart whenever they're choosing medical care (of a lack thereof) for you.

We have more on our website about advance directives, medical power of attorneys and other documents you may want to include in your estate plan.

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