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Alleviate your family's decision-making burdens with a health care directive

A commonly overlooked estate planning document is the health care directive, otherwise known as a living will or an advance directive. Most people who think seriously about estate planning draft a will to address matters of property distribution, but often the planning stops there.

When you create a health care directive, you go further in alleviating your family of the difficulties associated with incapacity and death. The reality is that a health care directive can save your family from emotional strife and conflict because such a document clarifies your wishes regarding health care when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.

Too often, when someone doesn't have a health care directive, disputes erupt between family members who disagree about what kind of medical care should be administered. At the very least, lack of a living will tends to create uncertainty and confusion. Families can listen to doctors and heed their opinions, but the decision is ultimately up to the family.

Creating a living will takes the burden of that decision-making process off of your family and assures them that you have thought this through and would want it this way.

Medical treatment is not a perfect science. Doctors make a variety of decisions every day, and it is only just that individuals receiving medical care have a say in its type and duration.

In Kentucky, when you create a health care directive -- or living will -- you can name a person as your health care surrogate. This person is entrusted with making health care decisions on your behalf when you are not able to do so yourself.

To learn more about these matters, please see our health care directive overview.

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