According to a survey taken in late 2011, the majority of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 do not have any kind of advanced medical directives, such as a living will or health care power of attorney. The survey reports that 64% have taken no steps to create an advance medical directive either as part of an estate plan or independently.
For many baby boomers, their lifestyles of healthy eating and regular exercise may contribute to a sense of invulnerability or at least a reluctance to think about death and dying. However, advance medical directives allow anyone to plan ahead for medical situations in which they can no longer express their own medical choices, and are not just for the sick.
Estate planning lawyers and other medical experts recommend that all competent adults create a medical directive of some kind while they are still able. Living wills, for example, allow you to state your medical choices in advance, while a health-care power of attorney or healthcare proxy gives you the ability to pass on your decision-making rights to someone else in the event you are incapacitated.
State laws differ widely about the requirements for advanced medical directives, so it’s important to speak to your attorney before you create one. However, if you wait too long to make one you may be too late if an emergency medical situation arises that prevents you far from creating a medical directive.