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'What If...' Plans -- Health Care

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Durable Power Of Attorney for Health Care

In case of illness or accident, many important decisions regarding medical treatment, necessary care therapy, and personal needs must be made. Normally you make these decisions personally after consulting with your physician, family and/or friends.

You will want to choose a person whom you trust to make these decisions if you are incapacitated and unable to make them yourself. In most states this can be done by signing a Health Care Durable Power of Attorney (Health Care DPOA), or—as it is known in some states—an Advance Directive. The Health Care DPOA allows you to designate your agent and authorizes him/her to make health care decisions on your behalf, using guidelines you have set down in the document. Most states authorize your physician and hospital to rely on the decisions of your agent.

It is important to have a signed Health Care DPOA in the legal format approved by the laws of the state where you live. If your state legislature has not approved a Health Care DPOA, a Living Will may be advantageous. Normally a Living Will does not have the same legal standing with doctors and hospitals, and does not provide the full authorization for your agent as a Health Care DPOA. However if the Health Care DPOA is not legal in your state, do consider a Living Will.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) restricts who can access a patient’s medical information without their permission. Be sure your living will and/or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care authorize the release of medical information to your health care surrogate. If not, there are HIPAA authorization forms that you can complete and attach to your existing documents.

If you are traveling and become incapacitated in a different state, that state usually will—but may not—recognize your home state’s Health Care DPOA. However we do recommend that you carry a copy with you when you travel. Read more about Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

How Do You Want to Live?
This form provides an opportunity for each individual to set down in writing his/her feelings about specific issues relating to health care and quality of life. A discussion of these and other values can provide important information for those who might have to make health care decisions on our behalf. By talking about them ahead of time, family disagreements may be minimized. And if such decisions do need to be made, the burden of responsibility may be eased because others feel confident they know your wishes.

Contact your local Covenant Trust Company Financial Services Representative for information on getting a new or updated Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. [view Directory]

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