What is a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney/Living Will?
It is estimated that only 25-30% of U.S. households have estate planning documents in place. This means that most people do not have documentation in place to address how medical decisions should be made when they are no longer able to make those decisions on their own. In this blog, we are addressing Durable Health Care Directives.
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so.
Some advisors draft separate Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney for Health Care. The two can also be combined, which clients often like, because it permits them to have one document pertaining to health care.
A properly drafted Health Care Directive is HIPPA compliant, and permits the designated person, known as a health care Agent, to be able to speak with your medical providers. If properly drafted, it will also provide that while HIPPA compliant, the powers that you are conveying to your health care Agent are only to be taken into consideration when you lack the ability to make or understand your own personal health care decisions.
A Health Care Directive should address specifics. For example, it can be tailored so that it is clear and unambiguous that if you are brain dead, and do not have brain activity as identified through an EEG or equivalent diagnostic test, that you consider that an end of life condition, and do not want to be maintained solely on a ventilator, intravenous, or other tube feedings. A properly drafted Health Care Directive is flexible but clear in the intent that you wish to convey to medical providers and the powers to your designated health care Agent.
A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney/Living Will is one of the key elements to anyone’s estate plan. A proper plan consists of a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney, a Power of Attorney for Assets, as well as a Last Will and Testament and perhaps a Trust Agreement. All of these documents serve a valuable purpose and if properly drafted, can permit your designated individuals to be able to continue to handle your affairs and manage your health care in the manner in which you would have done so on your own.
We assist many clients with the drafting of their documents and making sure that each client understands the role that each document plays.
If you need assistance with your estate planning, please reach out to us. (March 22, 2019)