An advance directive can tell your children what you want them to do in terms of medical care. You can also set up a medical power of attorney, giving a child the power to make those decisions for you.

Many people just think about their current health. If you’re very healthy and have no long-term issues, it’s easy to assume that you don’t need an advance directive. You can make your own medical decisions, so why tell the kids what you want them to do? Can’t you just do that when you’re older?

This line of thinking is dangerous. Remember, an accident could cause serious injuries in a split second, and accidents don’t discriminate based on age. A stroke or some other medical emergency could cause your current good health to be stripped away instantly.

There are plenty of stories of kids who then have to make tough, heartbreaking decisions. If you’re in a coma and being kept alive by life support, would you want that to continue? Do you want to use a ventilator? How long do you want that type of care to last? What types of treatments do you want, and when do you just want the kids to move on?

If you don’t tell them, they won’t know. Then they have to make those calls themselves. This can lead to medical care that is completely against your wishes, or it can lead to children who are stuck feeling guilty for not using life support, not knowing if you wanted it or not.

Certainly, you can avoid this by looking into all of your options for advance directives and powers of attorney early, getting them set up in case of emergency, even if you won’t use them for a decade.

Source: WebMD, “Advance Directives,” accessed July 12, 2017