Thinking about dying is not something most Houston residents want to do. This makes estate planning an arduous task. Considering what to do with property after death is one thing, but considering what kind of end-of-life measures a person may want could be too much. However, an advance directive is an important part of any estate plan.

This document allows a Houston resident the dignity of choosing what happens in the event of incapacitation and/or a terminal situation. Many people who have no trouble choosing an executor may avoid filling out an advance directive, also referred to as a health care power of attorney, living will or medical directive. This document provides instructions to a health care proxy and doctors while allowing the appointed individual to make decisions he or she is unable to make at the time.

Retaining this kind of control often puts the individual’s mind at ease. Family members will not have to make admittedly difficult choices regarding any life-prolonging measures when the situation is grim. The problem is that not enough people take advantage of the powerful estate-planning tool.

Statistics show that too few people engage in estate planning, and fewer make sure they have a plan in place for a time when they may be incapacitated. The thought of an individual not having the opportunity to retain some control over what happens at the end of one’s life may be enough for some people to change their minds about executing an advance directive. People with questions about this important document could consult with an attorney about it and other estate-planning documents.