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An important document that two thirds of Americans are missing

One study performed in 2017 showed that a third of all Americans do not have a healthcare directive. This is surprising considering how important this document is and that both legal and healthcare professionals advocate for it. New Mexico residents may be interested in learning more about this document.

A healthcare directive is a legal document that indicates who will make decisions for a person in the event of an illness and at the end of their life. It can give guidance on how a person's body will be handled after they die. These documents are also referred to as durable health care powers of attorney, medical directives or living wills.

Healthcare directives are relatively new, especially in comparison to wills and trusts. California was the first state that passed a law that permitted healthcare directives. By the year 1992, every other state had similar laws. The fact that every state quickly accepted laws regarding these documents shows how important they are. The main concept is to give a person control when they are impaired or after their death.

One of the most important decisions a person will need to make when filling out a healthcare directive is choosing who their agent will be. This individual will make decisions on their behalf. A person must choose someone who has values that are aligned with theirs, is familiar with the type of treatments they would be willing to accept and what kind of care they would like. Many individuals choose their spouse or an adult child as their agent.

Some people feel apprehensive when it comes to the estate planning process. Working with an attorney may prove helpful for some individuals. An attorney might help an individual draw up documents, like healthcare directives and wills, as well as answer questions regarding trust planning and asset protection.

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