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In addition to a Last Will and Testament, you should think about other situations. Remember, your Will operates only after you have died. What if you are really sick and you need someone to help with your routine personal affairs, like paying bills and filing insurance claims? Unless you have appointed someone, the Court may have to step in to appoint a Guardian for you.
A much more agreeable alternative is the Durable General Power of Attorney.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent to handle certain business for you and in which you grant certain authority and certain powers to your agent.
A Power of Attorney may be either General of Limited. A General Power of Attorney is one that covers a very broad range of topics and is intended to allow the person you appoint to conduct any business on your behalf.
The Power of Attorney is Durable if it contains language that allows it to continue to be effective even if you are no longer competent.
A Medical Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent to handle certain specific or limited business for you and in which you grant certain authority and certain powers to your agent.
A Medical Power of Attorney limits your Agent’s authority to medical and health care matters.
A Durable Medical Power of Attorney is a “Springing” Power of Attorney. That term means that the Medical Power of Attorney only “springs” into effect if you become unconscious or otherwise incompetent. As long as you are able to make medical decisions for yourself, the Medical Power of Attorney is of no effect.
The Power of Attorney is Durable if it contains language that allows it to continue to be effective, even if you are no longer competent.
A Living Will is not a Will.
A Living Will is not about living.
A Living Will is a poorly named document.
A Living Will is a declaration that states, in short: If you are not able to make decisions for yourself, and you are about to die, you would like your family and your medical providers to allow you to pass away.
A Living Will is a “Springing” document. That term means that the Living Will only “springs” into effect if you become unconscious or otherwise incompetent. As long as you are able to make medical decisions for yourself, the Living Will is of no effect.
HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Called simply the “Privacy Act” it impacts many aspects of our lives in addition to the sharing of medical information.
Every time you enter a medical facility, you are asked to sign a Privacy Act form allowing the doctors and others to talk with your family, your insurance company and others about your care.
The problem arises if and when you enter a medical facility and you are not conscious. Your are not able to sign the Privacy Act form. Some facilities take the position that they can’t even tell your family that you are in the hospital.
That is not very practical, but the Federal HIPAA law is very strict.
You can avoid a problem in the matter of getting your medical information to your family and others if you create a HIPAA Authorization as part of your Estate Plan. Then, whenever you are in a medical facility, if you are unconscious, your loved ones will always be able to get information about your condition and your care.
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