So long as you are able to make your own health care decisions, you will continue to do so. But, if there comes a time, and there usually does, when you are not able to make health care decisions on your own, it is imperative that you have these 3 absolutely essential health care documents.
1. A medical power of attorney is essential
The medical power of attorney is a power of attorney for a specific use — granting consent to medical treatment. You appoint a health care agent to act on your behalf and make decisions about which doctor, procedure, hospital, nursing home, etc is in your best interest.
It is wise to name successor health care agents in the event that your named agent is unable or unwilling to act on your behalf. For example, you might both be injured in a car accident.
Choose a health care agent who cares about you and who can be appropriately assertive when communicating with medical staff.
2. A HIPAA release is essential
Because of federal privacy laws, a HIPAA release is an absolutely essential health care document. By signing a HIPAA release, you are authorizing medical professionals to communicate with your named health care agents.
3. A living will is essential
If you want to avoid heroic measures and being hooked up to machines to artificially extend your life, a living will is an essential health care document.
The living will is effective at the very end of life and you are in an irreversible coma, persistent vegetative state, or otherwise terminal.
Organ donation form
An organ donation form may not be essential to you, but if you’re like most people, you want to contribute your organs to save lives. In fact, you could save eight lives.
Organ donation never hastens your death and does not scar the body for funeral purposes. You can still have an open casket funeral if that is your wish.
If you have questions about these 3 essential health care documents, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.