Do you know who will be making your end-of-life decisions when you are incapacitated? If you haven’t named a Health Care Agent, it is possible that a family member who does not share your views or wishes, or with whom you are no longer close, may be asked to call the shots in an end-of-life situation. In Mary Clark’s case, the laws of the state of Nevada put her healthcare decisions into the hands of her long estranged daughter rather than her companion of 18 years.

Executing an Advance Health Care Directive and nominating a Health Care Agent is not just about choosing the right person to make the big life-and-death decisions for you.   It’s also about taking care of the loved ones you leave behind and giving them “permission” to follow your instructions.   Perhaps Mary Clark would have wanted to be removed from life-support, as her estranged daughter chose to have done, but she may also have wanted her beloved companion to be involved in the decision, and have a chance to say a peaceful goodbye.

Most people have strong wishes about life-support and end-of-life care, but rarely do they want those wishes to be an undue burden upon their loved ones. Creating a Health Care Directive which outlines those wishes is important not only for your own peace of mind, but also to ensure the peace of mind of your loved ones, those who will be left to mourn your absence after you’re gone.