While a Trust or a Will handle the financial aspects of your estate upon your disability or death, you need two specific medical documents as part of your estate plan should medical matters arise and you can’t make your wishes known consciously to your family or your doctors.
The first document is called an Advance Medical Directive. In an Advance Medical Directive, you decide who will be your agent to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to do so. There will also be “death with dignity” provisions, so your loved ones know your wishes regarding end-of-life decisions. Also, you will have an organ donation option.
The other medical document you should have in your estate plan is often referred to as a HIPPA Release. Congress passed a healthcare privacy act several years ago. Its aim was to make it harder for third parties to gain access to our private medical records. Unfortunately, a consequence of this act has been that some hospitals will not let your loved ones talk to your doctors or gain access to your medical files without a signed authorization from you. This HIPPA release is that signed authorization.
By having these documents already in your estate plan, you can ensure your family and doctors know your wishes on medical matters should you become unresponsive during hospitalization or when you face a terminal illness.