With an advance health care directive, you appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you and provide specific instructions for your health care such as whether to prolong life in the event of an irreversible coma. A HIPAA authorization grants your agents access to your medical records and allows them to speak to your medical providers. HIPAA is a federal law that restricts medical providers from giving your health care information to anyone but yourself, not even to your spouse or other family member.

Why have one?
If you don’t have an advance health care directive and HIPAA authorization, a person will have to petition the court to either become your health care surrogate or your guardian (also referred to as your conservator). Involving the court can add delay, expense and complexity to the process of assisting you with medical decisions. An advance health care directive and HIPAA authorization are both included in a will based and living trust-based estate plan with LivingTrustify.

Who needs one?
Anyone who wants to avoid conservatorship, which should be everyone! Note that a spouse, child or other family member does not have the automatic authority to make decisions for an adult who is unable to manage their own affairs. It is critical to take action now and name someone of your own choosing, not a judge’s, to make medical decisions for you.