Decisions about your health care are some of the most important you will ever make. While you are well, planning for the unexpected now is so important. Don’t put off making plans until it’s too late and you are unable to assert your wishes. National Health Care Decisions Day is Sunday, April 16th. This day is dedicated to educating and empowering both young and old about the importance of advanced care planning. Including healthcare documents in your estate plan can ensure your decisions are always your choice, even if you cannot speak for yourself. Your comprehensive estate plan should include healthcare documents that clearly state your wishes. Here are three documents you need to include in your estate plan to ensure your wishes are respected: Health Care Directive This document allows you to name a healthcare agent. This will be the individual you grant the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf. A healthcare agent may also be called a healthcare surrogate or a personal representative. In your directive, you can include specific instructions on the healthcare measures you desire if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. These are life and death decisions; make sure your agent is someone you trust. Work closely with an estate-planning lawyer to ensure your directive provides clear guidelines for your agent to follow. HIPAA Authorization Your healthcare agent or personal representative will need access to your medical records to make educated decisions about your care. To do this, your agent will need HIPAA authorization. This will ensure he or she can access your medical records from HIPAA-covered healthcare providers. Living Will Declaration A living will provides specific guidelines for your end-of-life care. While your healthcare directive can include provisions for your agent to make certain decisions about your ongoing healthcare, a living will tells your agent how you would like those decisions made, such as if and when you want life support to be removed, whether you would want hydration and nutrition and what kind of care choices should be made for you, if you cannot make them for yourself. These absolute decisions about your life should be included in a living will for extra protection and assurance that your desires will be known and honored. These documents, if carefully crafted, will help you express and enforce your healthcare wishes, even if you cannot speak for yourself. Call a qualified attorney to discuss your options today if you want to ensure your preferences for your ongoing and end-of-life care are respected. We can help. Schedule a call with us today. Learn more about National Healthcare Decisions Day at http://www.nhdd.org/.