End-of-life planning can be daunting. Not only are there difficult emotional considerations, the legal piece of it can seem unnecessarily confusing. There are a few very simple steps you can take to provide invaluable guidance and reassurance to loved ones.

One such step is the creation of a health care directive.

What is a health care directive?

A health care directive is a straightforward legal document you fill out, write and sign. It is essentially a road map explaining how you would like to be cared for should you be unable to communicate your wishes in the moment.

In a health care directive, you will:

  • Lay out your wishes for the type of medical care you want (or don’t want)
  • Name a trusted individual, or individuals, to help make these decisions on your behalf, according to your written wishes
  • Offer direction for what should happen after your passing, such as whether you would like to be an organ or tissue donor

Most Americans do not have a health care directive

Despite being an easy, useful tool, two-thirds of Americans do not have a health care directive, according to Forbes. This can be a missed opportunity.

A health care directive is not only straightforward, it is customizable. You can leave detailed instructions based on very specific circumstances, such as specific procedures you absolutely do not want to be done, or what should happen in the event doctors want to consider a feeding tube.

In this way, you can ensure not only that loved ones follow your wishes, but that there isn’t any ambiguity about what to do next. This type of clarity can help take pressure off of family, offering a sense of comfort as they navigate an emotionally challenging period.