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Why health care directives are so important

The process of estate planning can seem overwhelming. It can be hard for a person to confront their own mortality and make tough decisions regarding how their family members and assets will be cared for once they are no longer around. However, Florida residents know that it needs to be done.

An important part of estate planning is a health care directive. This is a legal document that specifies a person's decisions for caregivers in case of dementia or other illnesses and how decisions will be made at the end of their life. This document is also known as a durable health care power of attorney, a living will or a medical directive.

A study conducted in 2017 showed that a third of Americans do not have health care directives. This may be surprising considering how attorneys and health care professionals advocate for this important document. Wills and trusts have been around for hundreds of years, but health care directives are relatively new. This legal document came into existence in the mid-1970s. The state of California passed the first law that permitted this directive. By 1992, all other states had similar laws.

An important aspect of filling out a health care directive is choosing the right agent. It is common for people to choose their spouse or an adult child to act as their agent. The important thing is to choose someone who has similar values and understands the decisions a person would like to be made at the end of their life.

Health care directives allow a person to control how medical and funeral decisions will be made for them. Since this is a legal document, a person may want to speak with an attorney. An attorney may answer questions about health care directives, wills, trusts and other documents related to estate planning.

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