Legal documents can address medical issues.
People do not all have the same health care needs.
Various factors impact the level of medical treatment people require.
These include diet, genetics, age, and other lifestyle factors.
According to a recent The News-Enterprise article titled “All seniors need legal documents for medical issues,” older individuals tend to have more medical issues and should prioritize estate planning as a result.
Although estate planning is often associated with preparing for eventual death, it is also essential to prepare for potential incapacity.
Different legal documents are required to address specific aspects of end-of-life treatments, health care decisions, and access to medical records.
The key incapacity planning documents include a HIPAA Authorization and an advance health care directive, which consists of a health care treatment directive and a durable power of attorney for health care decisions.
What medical issues does each of these address?
Through a HIPAA Authorization you to permit a trusted individual to communicate with your doctors and access and review your medical records.
The first component of the advance health care directive, the health care treatment directive, allows you to provide specific instructions regarding your end-of-life care.
If you have strong opinions, make them legally binding through your estate planning.
The second component, the health care power of attorney, can have a fairly broad scope.
It also goes by several names, including healthcare proxy, medical power of attorney, and healthcare surrogate.
In some instances, estate planning attorneys will include HIPAA authorizations in the same document as the health care power of attorney.
We do, as well as in a more comprehensive separate standalone HIPAA Authorization
When creating your health care power of attorney, you should also appoint a backup agent.
Although it is possible to change your documents if something happens to your agent, more people than you might expect neglect to review and update their plans in a timely manner.
As a result, these individuals are left with no one to provide support on medical issues when they are left incapacitated.
What happens then?
The probate court is then responsible for designating an agent of its choosing.
It is far better to be proactive and give an agent and backup agent authority to make decisions and access information for your health care needs.
They will then be able to act swiftly in a time of crisis.
Because medical issues can arise at any time and the quality of your documents matters.
Consequently, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to get your health care documents in order and not act as your own attorney by downloading DIY online versions.
Reference: The News-Enterprise (May 27, 2023) “All seniors need legal documents for medical issues”