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Like summer, make-a-will month and our estate plan series are almost over. By creating a trust and a will, you have planned well in the event of your death. But, estate planning is also about expressing your wishes related to health care in the event of your incapacitation. Continuing with our home-building analogy, think of an advanced health care directive (also known as a power of attorney for health care) as the inspection for your estate plan. The person you’ve named to make health care-related decisions on your behalf is responsible for ensuring that all care is up to your desired code.
An advanced health care directive allows you to appoint the individual(s) you want to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so. This document also allows you to let others know what medical treatment you want, to specify your preferences around pain relief if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious, to express your choice to prolong or not to prolong your life under certain circumstances and to outline your wishes on organ donations and other final arrangements.
So that your appointed agent(s) can make informed decisions about your care, it’s important to release your medical information using a HIPAA release form. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of your health information. The act prohibits health care providers from releasing your information to anyone not listed on your HIPAA release.