The acronym HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. In this post, we will explain why this piece of legislation is something to take into consideration when you are planning your estate.
Advance Directives for Health Care
Most people understand that they have to plan for what will happen to their property after they die. This is done as part of estate planning. A lot of people think this is the long and short of it, but a proper estate plan will also address health care eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life.
Nobody wants to think about this type of thing, but people usually do not pass away without experiencing a period of incapacity in one form or another. It can be cognitive or physical, and people who are very sick may become unable to communicate sound decisions.
To account for these possibilities, your estate plan should include documents called advanced directives for health care. The main document is a durable power of attorney for health care. This document is used to name someone to act on your behalf if you become unable to communicate your own decisions. You can also specify your preferences regarding organ and tissue donation, as well as various forms of life support.
Now that you understand the incapacity planning component, we can look at the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This measure prohibits medical professionals from sharing information with anyone other than the patient.
Obviously, your health care agent would not be able to do their job properly without access to this crucial information. Your incapacity plan should include a HIPAA release to give the doctors the ability to communicate freely with your agent and anyone else that you choose to add.
While we are on the subject, we should point out the fact that HIPAA protections extend to all adults, even people who just turned 18. As a result, if you have an 18-year-old child, doctors would not be able to discuss their medical condition with you unless your child has signed a HIPAA release. For this reason, if you are a parent, you should explain the situation to your young adult child so they can sign one of these forms. They can also make you the agent under a durable power of attorney for health care.
Financial Decision Making
Your incapacity plan should also address the financial part of the equation. If you have a living trust, you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well. To account for possible incapacity, you can name a disability trustee when you establish the trust.
For property that is not held in the trust, you should execute a durable power of attorney for property. You can use the same person to act as the agent for both powers of attorney, but this is not a requirement.
Attend a Free Workshop
We are conducting a number of workshops over the coming weeks, and we will break down the process into simple, easily understandable terms. There is no charge to attend these sessions, but we ask that register in advance so we can reserve your seat.
To see the next scheduled workshop and obtain registration information, head over to our workshop page and follow the simple instructions to register.
Need Help Now?
If you have learned enough to know that it is time for you to put an estate plan in place, our doors are open. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 913-262-2000.