Did you know that only around 42% of Americans have a living will? In 1991, that number was only 17%, so there has been a massive improvement. Still, there are many people in the U.S. who have not taken steps to protect themselves in the case of injury. There are people who haven’t taken steps to protect their estates in the case of death.

Health care experts usually say that all adults should have a living will. It’s an essential legal document that does protect you and your estate. Whether it’s you or a parent that needs one, it’s time to talk about why it’s necessary.

What does a living will do?

A living will’s most important role is to establish your health care and end-of-life care wishes. Essentially, you’re explaining in advance what you’d like to see happen if you are badly hurt or are hospitalized at the end of your life. It says if you want to be resuscitated, take certain medications, receive life-saving surgery or other choices you won’t be able to make at the time.

A living will may also establish who you want to have care for you or make decisions that you haven’t already made for yourself. This person, your health care power of attorney, will step in and make sure you’re cared for appropriately and in agreement with your wishes.

If you’re interested in creating a living will, it’s time to sit down and discuss it with your attorney. Drawing up this legal document won’t take long, even though it does so much to protect you and your wishes when the time comes in the future.