Not everything about estate planning is done for your heirs. Much of it, in fact, is put in place to protect you. One of those documents is called a “Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive.” I’ll simply call it “Directive” from here on out.

Most of us remember the Terri Schiavo story. To remind you, Terri suffered an accident that resulted in serious brain damage and was in a persistent vegetative state. Terri did not have a Directive and so a seven-year legal battle ensued between her husband and friend, who wanted the life-prolonging procedures to be removed, and her parents, who wanted her to continue on life support hoping for a recovery. In the end, the decision was made by the courts. This situation cost the family constant and prolonged heartache, thousands of dollars, and at a certain point, Terri went on government aid/taxpayer money. If Terri had just had a Directive, it would have been clear to all her family members what her wishes would be, and the fighting could have been avoided altogether.

What does all this have to do with pregnancy? The reality is, even simple medical procedures include some degree of risk, and while pregnancy and giving birth rarely cause any serious risks, some risk is still present. Many aspects of our lives are unpredictable and out of our control. What you can control, however, is how you plan for the unknown. So during all of the planning and preparation you are going through to protect your new child, take the time to prepare and protect yourself too.

A Directive not only provides the person you name the power to make health care decisions you are unable to make, but it also tells them what you want. These are very emotional and sensitive decisions to make, and only you can really know what you want. Have your Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive drawn up and remove the burden of that decision from your loved ones.