Why HIPAA Release Forms Matter for Your Estate Plan

  • Posted on: Apr 29 2022
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When we think about estate planning, we often think of looking ahead to the end of our lives. However, estate planning is about more than just death; it’s about planning for the unexpected – especially unexpected health battles. 

An advance health care directive is a legal document that allows for someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This document appoints someone to act as your agent and provides them with your preferences for how you’d like certain situations handled. You can dictate someone else to make any and all medical decisions on your behalf. A medical power of attorney can also serve the same purpose although it has become less popular between the two. 

The Issue with HIPAA as it Relates to Your Estate Plan

But while these legal documents can be of extreme help in a serious situation, they can also prove far less useful if your doctors or medical facility refuse to share your medical history due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA. Under sections 261 and 264 of HIPAA, the Department of Health and Human Services was directed to develop guidelines to protect an individual’s health care information. This was carried out and by 2002, the Department had established the “Privacy Rule,” which prevents your private information from becoming public.

That’s why it’s so important to fill out a HIPAA release form whenever you establish an advance directive or power of attorney. A HIPAA release form can provide permission to share your medical history with not only your representative but also any loved ones whom you designate as needing to be informed. 

Choosing Your Own Treatments

An advance health care directive also allows you to specify the treatments you want and those you don’t want. Additionally, it helps to provide things like whether you want your organs donated in the event that you pass away. If you fail to assign an agent or personal representative to make medical decisions for you, it could lead to serious arguments among your family members for how you should be treated. When your loved ones disagree with your treatment, it can lead to a long and expensive court process. It may also result in your wishes not being carried out properly. That’s why it’s so important to build a HIPAA release into your other estate planning documents. 

The Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC Help those Who Wish to Protect their Assets and Wishes

If you or your loved one live in California and have any questions regarding your estate plan, it’s in your best interest to consult with a qualified California estate planning attorney who can help. At the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC, we know how important it is to protect your wishes. We will help you to establish a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Estate Planning