We know that discussing your estate plan and end-of-life care can be challenging. Having a plan in place, however, is an important step to helping you and your loved ones prepare for the future. One way to help ensure any future medical decisions made on your behalf are ones that you are comfortable with is by including detailed health care documents.
By creating advance directives, you have the opportunity to designate someone to act as your agent if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Another important benefit is that you can leave specific instructions concerning the types of future medical care you wish to receive for your agent to carry out.
To better help you make an informed decision about the planning documents you need, let us share three health care documents you can add to your estate plan to help accomplish your individual planning goals and needs.
1. Living Will.
The first document you may consider creating is a living will. This is a legally-binding document that allows you to detail your wishes for the medical care you would receive if you are in a coma after a car accident or are diagnosed with a terminal illness. This is your direction on how to handle your end-of-life care. This is a flexible document that can be updated by you, as the creator, until you are both legally and medically declared unable to responsibly make decisions for yourself.
2. Powers of Attorney.
Through your powers of attorney, you have the opportunity to appoint an agent to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. We know there is no way to prepare for every situation that could come up, however, establishing a health care directive can help you accommodate for unexpected circumstances that may arise. Be aware that it is important that you choose a close friend or family member for this role, as these can be critical decisions.
3. HIPAA Authorization
You may already know this, but permission must be granted in order for your agent to gain access to your medical records. HIPAA was created to protect the privacy of patients, and accordingly, your agent must have HIPAA authorization to receive your records. This will help make it easier for them to make appropriate medical decisions on your behalf. Be sure to discuss this document with your estate planning attorney to determine whether this should be a separate document or part of your existing health care documents.
Remember that these are just a few of the many important documents that can be added to your estate plan. The types of documents you need depend on your unique situation. When you are ready to discuss your planning goals and needs, do not hesitate to contact our office.