By Matthew A. Ferri, Esq. Happy World Health Day, a day where we celebrate the founding of the World Health Organization and raise global health awareness. LifeFocus Planning recognizes the importance of creating an estate plan that includes documents regarding client healthcare powers. That will explain the decisions they would make in the event of a medical emergency. Having up-to-date versions of these healthcare documents could be crucial to getting the care you want.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney names the people (your “agents” or “patient advocates”) you would like to make medical decisions for you, if you were incapacitated and could not make them for yourself. Naming agents in advance means your loved ones do not have to go through the time-consuming, costly ordeal of getting guardianship papers, conservatorship papers, or court orders that a medical institution may require in lieu of a Power of Attorney. Using a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you will put certain medical decisions in writing, thus ensuring they are followed. These can include resuscitation orders, tube-feeding decisions, or respiration choices.
HIPAA Authorizations tell medical care providers who can have access to your medical information. Thus, enabling your agents to make informed decisions for you in the event of an emergency.
A Living Will or Advanced Directives give you the ability to provide guidance to your agents about the kinds of care you would like to receive beyond what is set forth in the Healthcare Power of Attorney. For instance, it lets you leave instructions for when and if you would want to receive artificial nutrition, mechanical breathing treatments, diagnostic tests, and pain management medication, among other treatments and under what circumstances you would like to be resuscitated.
These can also provide guidance on where you receive your care. You can let your agents know if you would like to remain in home for as long as possible. And, if it comes to be too dangerous for you to stay home, whether there is a specific care institution you’d like to be treated at. Sharing these wishes with your agents can ease your mind that you’re getting the types of healthcare you want, and that you remain in control even when you can’t make the decisions yourself. It can also ease your loved ones’ minds that they don’t have to play a guessing game. It may also potentially save them from disagreements in the future over whether they are doing what you have wanted.
Healthcare powers are of particular importance if you have children that are eighteen or older. On the day your children become legal adults, at whatever age applies in your state, you lose the right to participate in their medical decisions. Without proper healthcare powers and HIPAA forms, doctors will not even discuss your child’s health. And therefore, there is no chance they will let you make any medical decisions. If you ever wish to participate in the medical care, or end of life decisions of your adult children, then it is critical that you have the proper healthcare documents in place. Without them you could waste precious in legal proceedings attempting to gain the right to care for your own child.
In honor of World Health Day, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We can provide information and tools for you to talk about your wishes with family, friends, and healthcare providers.