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Home » Estate Planning » Are you one of the many who lacks a health care directive?

Estate planning is not something many New Jersey residents think is important — or at least not important right now. It is something people do later in life, or it is for people who have significant assets, right? Wrong. It is for anyone who wants to protect their loved ones, their assets and, most importantly, themselves. When it comes to personal protection, having a health care directive is a must.

What is a health care directive? It is a document in which an individual names a person to be his or her personal representative for health care decisions. This individual is responsible for making all medical decisions in the event one becomes incapacitated. It is a big job, not one that should be given to just anyone.

Along with the health care directive, it is possible to leave detailed instructions regarding what type of care is or is not wanted. Having such instructions in place will help one’s agent during the decision-making process and ensure one’s wishes are known. These wishes have to be respected by medical providers, though there may be exceptions when the wishes expressed are medically inappropriate.

Putting together a health care directive does not take a lot of time, and it is not difficult to do. However, it is believed that two-thirds of Americans do not have one. New Jersey residents who are among them can help themselves by seeking out the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to get this and other estate planning documents in order. Peace of mind can be gained by taking the time now to ensure one is protected in the event of incapacitation or death.