When people think of estate planning, they tend to focus on such big-ticket items as wills and trusts and the distribution of assets. But just as important when it comes to securing your and your family’s peace of mind is the question of health documents. Whether it’s living wills or powers of attorney, these documents ensure that your wishes will be followed should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make your own health decisions. Keeping up on the various health documents that form part of your estate plan can be confusing, but it’s important to “stay in the know” and protect yourself no matter what may happen.
The Most Important Health Documents
There are four essential healthcare documents that you need to ensure that your estate planning is up to date:
Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Also known as a health care proxy or medical power of attorney, this document protects you in case you should become incapacitated. The healthcare power of attorney allows you to select at least one person who will make healthcare decisions for you should you no longer be able to do so yourself. These decisions can range from meeting your daily medical needs to larger choices about your long-term health.
The living will, or advanced healthcare directive, is an in-depth document that gives detailed instructions about your end-of-life decision making. It instructs your health care proxy what steps they will take should you no longer be able to make your own healthcare choices. They often deal with difficult decisions, such as whether to remove life-sustaining medical equipment.
If you do decide that you wish not be resuscitated in the event of a medical emergency, you can have your doctor complete a DNR (do not resuscitate) form on your behalf. This will instruct Emergency Medical Services not to perform CPR or other life-restoring efforts should your blood flow or breathing stop.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established in 1996 to protect individuals’ healthcare information. If you wish for your family members or other loved ones to be informed about your medical condition, you need to complete a HIPAA authorization form.
Hiring an Elder Law Attorney
Keeping track of these four documents can be confusing, but by doing a little research, you can easily stay on top of these essential directives. Hiring an experienced elder law attorney is an important step, not only in ensuring that your health documents are up-to-date, but in helping you successfully execute every step of the estate planning process.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center
At the Deliberato Law Center, we have many years of experience in all areas of estate planning and elder law. Do not hesitate to reach out to the Deliberato Law Center today either by calling us at (216) 341-3413 or using the contact form on our website.