When preparing your estate plan, it is highly likely that you have spent most of your focus on the things that you want taken care of after your death. Of course, this is the primary focus of an estate plan in general and is something you need to take care of.
But you should also consider taking care of situations in which you have not yet died, but can no longer take responsibility for your own health.
The purpose of an advance directive
The National Institute on Aging discusses advance directives and their place in your estate plan. An advance directive exists to tell people what to do in the event that you can no longer communicate your wishes directly. Examples can include falling into a coma after an accident, suffering from a head injury that results in severe brain damage or dealing with degenerative illnesses that cause mental cloudiness.
Helping you and your family
Advance directives obviously hold an enormous benefit for you, as it lets you have full control over what happens to you in accordance with what you would want in a clear state of mind. You can make exact provisions for unique scenarios as well, such as choosing which situations you want resuscitation in and whether or not you want your loved ones to remove you from life support or keep you on it, depending on the circumstances.
It also benefits your loved ones, who no longer have to worry about the burden of making these choices on your behalf. They know that whatever they do, they do it with your blessing. This prevents guilt and lingering doubts which may have otherwise plagued them well into their lives.