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A guide to advance health care directives for singles

Many single people feel that they do not need to address estate planning until they have a family to consider, or that they have yet to amass a degree of assets that would necessitate an estate plan. These individuals are overlooking an important component of estate planning, which is the creation of an incapacitation plan to be called upon in the event of a serious illness or injury. Advance health care directives are important no matter one's age or family status.

A health care directive is a series of directions provided for a friend or family member to follow in the event that a Philadelphia resident is unable to direct the course of his or her own health care. Very few people like to think about such an event, but failing to plan for the worst does nothing to prevent such an outcome from taking place. Without an advance health care directive in place, loved ones can be left scrambling to decide how to move forward with treatment options.

An advance health care directive can be as specific as an individual wishes. For example, it is possible to outline exactly what types of treatment are desired and which are to be avoided. Some people state that they do not want to receive blood transfusions or organ donations, while others do not want to be kept on life support if there is no indication of a chance to regain normal function. These are innately personal and will differ from one person to the next.

An advance health care directive also gives individuals the opportunity to designate a person to make any additional medical decisions on his or her behalf. This is a decision that should never be made lightly. It is also important to discuss the desired types of care with the chosen individual so that he or she understands what is expected if the need should ever arise. Advance health care directives help to ensure that an individual is able to receive the type of care that is desired, but it is also a way to give loved ones the support they would need in the event that a friend or family member suffers a serious illness or injury. These documents can give Philadelphia loved ones the tools they need to cope with a very stressful set of circumstances, which is a gift in and of itself.

Source: Wicked Local, Scituate, "PLANNING MATTERS: Singles still need an estate plan", Leanna Hamill, Feb. 19, 2016

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