Advance Health Care Directive
An advance health care directive is a type of power of attorney that allows someone who appoint as your agent to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. Your agent could be a spouse, other family member, or a close friend. It is important that whoever you choose as your agent is someone that you have discussed these issues with and someone that will carry out your wishes.
There are certain requirements that must be set out in an advance health care directive in order to comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act). Specific language needs to be in the document to be sure your agent has the authority to obtain, use, and disclose your health information and medical records in dealing with your health care providers. The document needs to be notarized and if the principal is in a skilled nursing home, there needs to be an Ombudsperson present when the document is signed.
You are free to put any customized provisions in your advance health care directive specifying what diagnostic procedures, medications, or surgical procedures you want or don’t want. You can direct what artificial hydration or nutrition you want or don’t want if you have a terminal illness or condition. You may also state your wishes concerning burial, cremation, or organ donation. Some people put in provisions which are necessary because of religious beliefs.
If you have a trust, an advance health care directive should be part of your revocable living trust package. If you have a will, you should also have an advance health care directive. If you have no estate plan, you still should have an advance health care directive. If you are over the age of 18, you should have an advance health care directive. There have been many cases involving young adults who have been severely injured and family members disagree about what should be done medically. An advance health care directive avoids the family disagreements because your wishes about life support and end of life issues is spelled out in a written document.