Advance Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive (or durable power of attorney for health care) is a document that allows you to appoint another individual to make health care decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so for yourself.  You can also state your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, organ donation and funeral arrangements.  A health care directive also allows you to authorize your selected individual to access your medical records, which is important given the strict federal laws protecting the privacy of medical records (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)).

An advance health care directive is an important part of your estate plan.  If you already have an advance health care directive, you may wish to have it reviewed to ensure it expresses your current wishes regarding your medical care and that it complies with HIPAAA.

A “living will” should not be confused with a “will” or “living trust.”   A “living will” refers to a legal document that gives instructions regarding the use of life sustaining treatment.   An advance health care directive accomplishes the same purpose of a living will but also allows you to appoint an individual to make medical decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.