Most of the time, you focus on the routine tasks, chores and joys that fill up your days. You don’t give much thought to the future beyond the next couple of days or weeks. But sometimes life reminds us that we’re mortal, that good health is a blessing and that things can change.

In these moments, you might think about how changes to your health could affect you and your family. If so, the good news is that you can act now to protect your interests and those of your loved ones. You can do this by adding an advance health care directive to your estate plan.

5 things your advance health care directive can do

In some states, people need to create durable powers of attorney to empower others to make decisions on their behalf in case of an emergency. Then they need to write living wills to spell out their wishes for end-of-life care. In California, your advance health care directive can address both these concerns. As the attorney general’s office notes, an advance health care directive can:

  • Address specific treatment options in case you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious
  • Exclude the use of certain tests and treatments
  • Let your doctor know if you wish to be resuscitated
  • Give a family member or loved one the authority to make medical decisions for you when you cannot
  • Indicate your preferences for hospice and palliative care

An estate planning attorney can help you review your options and ensure that your directive helps you meet your goals. Then, as one woman wrote in an article for AARP, the most important thing your directive may do for you and your family is help provide peace.

No one wants to find themselves unable to act on their loved one’s behalf. No one wants to make tough, gut-wrenching decisions about their loved ones’ terminal illnesses. Your directive can help you spare your family from these decisions and ensure that you get the care you desire.

Should you create an advance health care directive?

Maybe you want to create an advance health care directive but keep putting it off. That’s something that can wait, you might think. But that’s part of the reason the attorney general’s office notes that while 70% of Americans say they’d want to spend their last days at home, only 25% ever do.

The more life you have ahead of you, the more you have at stake. Your decisions may have longer-lasting consequences. Crafting a directive can help you care for your family and yourself.