Estate Plan Essentials Part 3: Healthcare Documents

The final post in our series focuses on the part of your Estate Plan having to do with healthcare. This is the section that is likely to change most often, and will require the most frequent review and update.

The backbone of the healthcare portion of your Estate Plan is of course your Advanced Health Care Directive (or Health Care Power of Attorney). In this document you record your wishes and instructions for your medical treatment—including any existing conditions or illnesses—as well as the people you nominate as your healthcare agents, those who are your healthcare advocates and will make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable. Your Advanced Health Care Directive should be updated whenever you have a major change in your health status.

Also included in the healthcare portion of your Estate Plan is your HIPAA Authorization, which gives the hospital and medical staff permission to share your health status with the people you’ve nominated as your healthcare agents and other family members. Your HIPAA Authorization should be updated every time you nominate new agents, or ever year or two to keep it “fresh” in the eyes of hospital personnel.

A lesser known part of the healthcare portion of your Estate Plan is the disability planning included in your Trust. A court of is authorized to make decisions regarding your competency, but you can also name a panel of doctors, professionals, loved ones, or a combination of any of those to determine your ability to make financial decisions relating to the Trust.  Your disability planning should be reviewed at least as often as you review your list of healthcare agents.