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You don't have to be an estate planning hero

"Don't be a hero!" This phrase is used in certain situations in which it would be perilous for someone to attempt to fix something better left alone. Although we admire the heroes in our lives, many situations don't require a hero's attitude to ensure that they are handled appropriately. Heroic measures can save lives, but they don't always have to in order to do the right thing. How does this notion apply to estate planning?

When thinking about your wishes for your life and your estate, the first question that comes to mind could be, "Is this what I really want?" Indeed, you can use the tools of estate planning to outline your wishes for your life and beyond clearly.

The Advance Health Care Directive

One of these tools in estate planning in California is called an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD). With this document, you can tell loved ones and your doctors how they should care for you if you are too sick to make decisions for yourself. Unfortunately, many people avoid this discussion just because it is unpleasant to think about.

According to a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association, as many as 70 percent of Americans don't want to know how they are going to die. We don't want to think about the potential for pain or regrets in how we lived our lives - and understandably so. However, according to Emergency Physicians Monthly, the dark reality is that half of elderly adults will visit the emergency room in the last month of their lives.

Facing the tough questions

When faced with an emergency situation, do you want your loved ones to take drastic, but perhaps uncertain, measures on your behalf or do you want to offer them peace of mind in knowing they did what you thought was right? According to Stat News, a healthcare and science publication, many families are not clear on how to handle their loved one's affairs in the event of an emergency.

This dissonance can be a problem because the healthcare industry will take every measure to prolong life even if that is not what a person would have wanted. The desire to opt out of care can't be known if it isn't put in writing through an AHCD.

This document is just one tool you can use to ensure your wishes are met in life and beyond. Starting the conversation about an AHCD can require a hero's courage, but an estate planning attorney can provide coaching when you feel the time is right to talk to your loved ones.

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