As you are creating an estate plan in California, there are many details to go over and important decisions to make. Whether you are young or old, you must make tough decisions about guardians, beneficiaries and trusts. One other important decision that can often get lost in the shuffle is long-term care planning and if you have a healthcare directive.

This is not just for the elderly. Unfortunately, tragedy can strike at any time, so everyone is vulnerable and susceptible to falling ill. If you at some point are too ill or incapacitated to make your own healthcare decisions, who will make them for you? Do they understand your wishes and how far you want doctors to go to save you? These are important things to consider long before you need them.

According to the National Institute on Aging, a healthcare directive can be used for matters like resuscitation, artificial nutrition, ventilator use and comfort care. It can also limit the tension and fighting between family members who want different things for you when you are ill. When you choose one person to make these important decisions and discuss your wishes with them, you get the exact care you want without dragging your life on longer than necessary if you are miserable.

Some people are in extreme pain near the end of their lives. They may want medication for the pain, or they may want to avoid the lethargy and drowsiness that often comes with it. Those who have a stroke may be left unable to move and mentally impaired and need to determine if they want to be resuscitated if their heart stops.

For some people, it is important to stay alive if at all possible and they are comfortable undergoing any medical procedure necessary to make that happen. Others want to limit the invasiveness of medical treatment and try to enjoy their families. There is no right or wrong answer, but a healthcare directive can ensure that your wishes are met.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.