[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]When it comes to health care issues to address in conjunction with your estate planning, there are generally three principal documents that need to be considered. While everyone needs these three basic documents, the people with the greatest need for them are the elderly and young adults.

As you get older, the risk of impairment or disability that could result in your not being able to make your own health care decisions significantly increases. A child is technically an adult at age 18, but parents still may need or want to be involved in his or her health care. Without the appropriate documents, parents no longer have the legal authority to make their son or daughter’s health care decisions.


[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”Health Care Surrogate Designation” title_align=”separator_align_left”][vc_column_text]Just as a general power of attorney gives you the authority to make your financial decisions (either immediately or when you become incapacitated), a health care surrogate designation gives a trusted family member or friend similar authority for making health care decisions. A health care surrogate designation authorizes one or more people to make decisions relative to which type of health care treatment you should receive, the location of that treatment and who will deliver such treatment.


[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”HIPAA Authorization” title_align=”separator_align_left”][vc_column_text]While a health care surrogate designation appoints a person to make your health care decisions, a HIPAA Authorization grants access to your health care information. Health care surrogates are not given access to health care information unless they also are authorized pursuant to a HIPAA authorization. Conversely, a HIPAA Authorization does not grant any decisional authority, but simply grants access to information. As a general rule, you’ll name the same individuals for your HIPAA authorization as in your health care surrogate designation.


[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=” Living Will Declaration” title_align=”separator_align_left”][vc_column_text]The living will declaration, like the health care surrogate designation, is a document specific to each state’s law, giving specific guidelines on end-of-life decisions. While a living will declaration can certainly say you do not want life support removed under any circumstances, most people wish to have life support removed only when it is certain that their situation is irreversible and that there is little chance they will retain a certain quality of life.

In some states, your living will is combined with a health care surrogate designation. In most of those cases, however, the health care surrogate designation only applies to end-of-life decisions relative to the living will declaration. In other words, the health care surrogate named in that document is appointed solely to make decisions relative to resuscitation and the provision of food, hydration, etc., but it is not able to make broader health care decisions. You should supplement your living will document with a broader health care surrogate designation.


Excerpt from “End of Lawyers: Thank Goodness”
Author: Jamie Hargrove