There are certain portions of your estate plan that deal directly with hospitals and other healthcare providers. These documents allow you to appoint the person or persons you believe will be best suited for making healthcare decisions for you should be become unable or unwilling, to tell the Hospital who they are allowed to talk to regarding your medical status and treatment options, and give instructions as to your wishes regarding artificial life prolonging procedures. These documents are the Healthcare Power of Attorney, HIPPA Authorization, and a Living Will.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney can be a separate document or can be included in your Durable Power of Attorney. This document appoints a person and authorizes that person to make medical/healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make your own decisions. This document should also contain a HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) Authorization, which allows your healthcare power of attorney to request your medical records should the need arise.
A HIPPA Authorization is often a separate document as well. With this document, you tell your doctors and other healthcare professionals who they are permitted to disclose your healthcare information by listing those names on this document. It is a good idea to have this authorization in addition to your healthcare power of attorney because there are often times more than one or two people who you want to be able to get information on your medical condition should the need arise.
Finally, a Living Will is a document that describes your wishes as to the use of artificial life support in the event you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. You may also include information as to your desire to donate organs and tissues after your death. With this document, you take control of how long you are artificially supported and take this difficult decision out of the hands of your family.