National Estate Planning Awareness Month: Top 3 Healthcare Documents Everyone Should Have

October is National Estate Planning Awareness Month and it’s an important time to think about proper estate planning. A comprehensive Estate Plan has many different components, but perhaps the most important parts of your plan are those having to do with your health. There are estate planning documents designed to help your loved ones make decisions should they have a health crisis.

Whether you or a loved one are in peak physical state or are grappling with a medical condition, the possibility of unforeseen health emergencies remains. Here are three documents you need to include in your estate plan to ensure your wishes are respected:

  • Living Will
    • One of the first must-have health documents you should know about is called a Living Will. A living will be a formal, legal document that expresses what you would want regarding medical treatment and interventions. A living will be a directive to physicians, an advanced medical directive, an advanced healthcare directive, personal directive.
  • HIPAA Authorization Form
    • HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law that went into effect in 1996. Under this act, doctors and insurance companies must protect the confidentiality of sensitive health records. In general, this federal law helps to protect the privacy of patients.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
    • A Healthcare POA can make critical decisions when time is of the essence while doing their best to follow the wishes stated in your Living Will. He or she can authorize doctors to make lifesaving measures and beyond that, they can also make long-term care decisions for your loved one.
    • Your healthcare POA has the authority to:
      • Choose doctors – a Healthcare POA can make decisions about doctors and other care providers.
      • Make decisions about your living arrangements – if you need any type of long-term care such as memory care, assisted living, or a rehab facility.
      • Plan and hire caregivers for long-term or short-term help
      • Make decisions regarding medical care – including surgeries, tests, medication, and more.

It is a good idea to work with an estate planning attorney to create your advanced healthcare directives. Once your healthcare power of attorney, living will, and other recommended documents are signed, you should then make sure your doctor and hospital have copies on record. We encourage you to reach out to an estate planning attorney if you have any questions about the healthcare documents you need for an estate plan.

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