What is a Health Care Directive?
“A health care directive is a legal document that lets you express your health care preferences and, if you wish, designate authority to someone to make care decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.”
Healthy adults often make the mistake of thinking they don’t need a health care directive. However, the pandemic has made clear everyone needs this estate planning document, at any time of life, according to a recent article “Health care directive beneficial for anyone” from The Times-Tribune.
The Purpose of a Health Care Directive
Who Needs a Health Care Directive?
Different Types of Health Care Directives
Several health care directives are prepared by an estate planning attorney as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
A Living Will or Advance Directive is used to express wishes for medical treatments if you are not able to express them yourself.
A Power of Attorney for Health Care (also known as a Durable POA for Health Care or a Health Care Proxy) lets you name a trusted person who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot make the decisions or communicate your wishes.
A HIPAA Privacy Authorization makes it possible for healthcare providers to share medical information with a person of your choice. Otherwise, the health care providers are not permitted to discuss your medical history, medical status, diagnostic reports, lab results, etc., with family members.
Short-term incapacity can result from illness or recovery from surgery or intense medical treatments. Having these documents in place permits a person you trust to have important conversations with your healthcare providers and to make decisions on your behalf.
Physicians will be permitted to discuss medical care with a named agent, who, in turn, will be able to discuss care or status with family members.
This documentation will also allow an authorized person to help you with insurance companies, and billing departments at hospitals, and pharmacies and to schedule medical appointments on your behalf.
The Importance of a Health Care Directive for Unmarried Individuals and Young Adults
If you are not married, this is especially important. Even a partner of many years has no legal right to act on your behalf.
For parents of young adults, having these documents in place will allow them to stay involved in an adult child’s healthcare. It’s not a scenario that any parent wants to contemplate, but having these documents prepared in advance can save a great deal of stress and anguish, if and when they are needed.
Reference: The Times-Tribune (Aug. 15, 2021) “Health care directive beneficial for anyone”
Why Do You Need a Health Care Directive?
Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan
How To Plan For Incapacity
Estate Planning Is a Gift and a Legacy for Loved Ones
Your Estate Plan Needs To Be Customized
Why You Need an Advance Directive Right Now
Your Children Wish You Had an Estate Plan
Estate Planning Basics for Difficult Times