There are many important decisions to make when planning out your estate. However, when most people think of “estate planning,” they tend to focus on what will happen with their assets after they are deceased. It is important to understand that some aspects of estate planning may take effect before you are legally dead. One such document that may be vital while you are still alive is a living will. According to State Farm Insurance, a living will gives a blueprint for your wishes where health care is concerned if you are permanently incapacitated.

For instance, a living will may be very important if you have dementia or other degenerative mental diseases in your family history. In the event that you end up with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, you may be unable to make sound decisions in your own name. In addition to degenerative mental diseases, strokes, aneurysms, or other forms of terminal illness can take real-time decision-making out of your own hands. If you happen to have very strong feelings about end-of-life care, creating a living will may help ensure that your wishes are respected even if you are not able to make your wishes clear yourself.

Living wills can also help take pressure off of family members who may be dealing with difficult situations. Particularly if your incapacitation is a result of a sudden occurrence or accident, your overwhelmed family members may not be able to make the best decisions. Additionally, if you know that there is a level of strife and disagreement within your family dynamics, a living will can help prevent arguments surrounding “pulling the plug” before they start.