Planning for the future usually feels very important for young adults. Florida adults who are closer to or who are already in retirement may feel like planning for the future is a less urgent task. However, long-term care planning is an essential task that should not be overlooked. Long-term care planning involves much more than just creating a will. For example, advance directives play a significant role in this process.

The two main types of advance directives are living wills and health care powers of attorney. A living will is a legal, valid document that gives a person the ability to express his or her wishes regarding medical treatment. If that person becomes severely ill, incapacitated or otherwise unable to make his or her own medical decisions, the living will should provide guidance on preferred medical treatments.

A living will may not be very effective without a health care power of attorney. Depending on a person’s family situation, there may not be anyone available to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. In other situations, the person who is legally able to make those decisions might not be the patient’s preferred choice. The health care power of attorney designates a trusted individual to make important medical decisions according to the living will.

Storing advance directives in safe but accessible places is important. A good idea is to make several copies, but store the originals somewhere safe. The copies can be given to family members, friends or even health care providers. Some people even choose to bring their advance directives to the hospital if they have to undergo surgery.

Some Florida residents think that they would prefer to just live their retirement years without thinking too much about the future, but this is misguided. Rather than a relaxing approach, doing so can be quite stressful both for the individual as well as family members who will have to deal with the consequences of little to no planning. If the thought of long-term care planning feels too overwhelming, speaking with a knowledgeable attorney can help ease many of those fears.