Financial planning: It can significantly improve your quality of life. But if done properly, its benefits extend even beyond your lifetime.

One of the best examples of this is a living will. A comprehensive plan will include an updated, valid living will with a health care power of attorney. These documents help ensure that your healthcare wishes will be carried out when you are no longer able to communicate them.

In addition to making sure your wishes are carried out, living wills can lift a huge burden from loved ones who could be faced with wrenching decisions in the event of a grave health situation.

A living will (sometimes called an advanced directive) is a signed, witnessed and notarized document that specifies your desires in the event that you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill or incapacitated in some other form.

One of the most powerful functions of a living will is to let family and doctors know whether to provide measures to extend your life in cases where there is no hope of your recovery.

The health care power of attorney, meanwhile, designates the personal representative you wish to act in your place when it comes to making medical decisions. This document is important because living wills can’t anticipate every medical situation that may occur.

Becoming incapacitated without a living will can create a nightmare for families. Disagreements arise not only about healthcare decisions, but also about who gets to make those decisions. Living wills and healthcare powers of attorney remove the guesswork and provide those you care for with reassurance that the right decisions will be made regarding your healthcare.

Of course, having this part of your planning taken care of can be reassuring to you as well: You will know that the person making critical decisions in your stead is a person you have chosen and trust.

Choosing a personal representative is a delicate matter, of course. Your representative should be someone whose personal beliefs and emotions won’t affect their ability to carry out your wishes. It’s also a good idea to choose someone who lives reasonably close to you, as extensive travel time can cause delays in carrying out your wishes.

Finally, remember that your living will documents aren’t useful if they can’t be located when they’re needed. We recommend that you provide a copy to your designated personal representative, and another copy to your regular doctor to keep on file.

Needless to say, contemplating things like death or incapacitation or coma isn’t pleasant. But the value of doing so is incalculable, to you and your loved ones alike. This is where your advisor and legal partner can be a big help.

If you would like help navigating through the tough but important task of estate planning, we may be able to help. At Intelligent Capitalworks, it’s just part of what we do.