While a trust or will can protect your assets upon your passing, how do you ensure your healthcare needs are taken care of while you are alive? Mason Law and Planning Group, LLC wants to make sure that your plan works for you should you become incapacitated. That is why we include three crucial healthcare documents with each of our plans: Healthcare Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization and Living Will. Each of these serve a different purpose, but they all are for your benefit to ensure you are cared for in the case of medical emergencies or incapacity.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Your Healthcare Power of Attorney authorizes someone of your choosing to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make the decisions yourself. This person is called your “healthcare agent”. If you have specific instructions about your healthcare, your agent ensures those wishes are carried out when you are physically or mentally unable to communicate them yourself. The Healthcare Power of Attorney also gives your agent permission to obtain copies of your medical records and it states whether or not you authorize organ donation.
This document would prove very helpful should you ever be involved in an accident and become incapacitated. If you are unable to make decisions regarding your own healthcare, your agent could step in and make an informed decision on your behalf..
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects your healthcare information from being shared without your consent or knowledge. While this is a necessary law to keep your information private, it can also be hindering if someone were to need urgent updates on your healthcare. This could be something as simple as knowing your hospital room to send flowers, or a spouse being able to call about your surgery. HIPAA Privacy Rules state that healthcare workers cannot disclose any of your healthcare information to them without your consent.
Therefore, you would need to sign an Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information. This document allows you to name individuals to whom healthcare professionals are authorized to speak. While the people you name in this document can get updates on your healthcare, they have no decision-making power.
Your Living Will covers the administration, withholding, or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures if you are in a vegetative state. In Colorado, this means that two licensed physicians must determine that there can be no recovery from your terminal or vegetative condition before they cease any life-prolonging procedures. Having this document ensures your wishes are carried out and prevents your family members from having to make any difficult decisions during already strenuous times.
If you are not comfortable with a document having the final decision on whether any life-prolonging procedures should continue, you are able to state that your healthcare agent has the authority to decide. It is important to note that your Living Will does not function the same way as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order; there will be more information on this in our next blog post!
We include these healthcare documents in each of our estate plans so our clients are honored in all circumstances. It is important to us that clients understand their plans and the many ways our documents protect them and their legacy.
Learn about Living Wills Vs. a DNR