Dear Marci,

Some of my friends were chatting about health care directives and future health care wishes. Is this really important to do right now? I’m in good health.

-Rafael (Garden City, UT)

Dear Rafael,

It’s understandable to feel that you don’t need to think about this topic when you’re in good health! You should know, however, that putting your future health care wishes in writing can be very helpful to your family members, if you were to suddenly find yourself in a position where you can’t make health care decisions for yourself due to being incapacitated by injury or illness.

Every state has different rules about who makes decisions about your treatment if you are physically unable to do so. In many cases, the decision-making is left in the hands of your health care providers, unless you’ve assigned someone as your legal representative in advance.

If medical decisions are casually left up to your family, it can be difficult and time-consuming for them to agree on different treatment options. It can also be costly for them to get the legal right to make medical decisions for you, and they may also disagree on who should make these decisions for you. Having a plan with your wishes written out ahead of time can help to avoid confusion and disagreements, and it ensures your wishes are honored if you’re unable to speak for yourself!

Start by talking to your family about your wishes. When you’re ready, completing an advance directive is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family to ensure your healthcare wishes are met.

Good luck!


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