Basic Estate Plan
A basic estate plan consist of five (5) documents: a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, and a HIPAA Release. With these five documents you can rest assured knowing that a loved one you personally selected will not only be able to make decisions on your behalf, but that they will also be guided by your personal wishes.
Will: A Will is your last chance to tell the world what you desire. It allows you to tell the court who you want to raise your children, what should happen to your property and personal belongings, as well as one last chance to tell your family how much you love them.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPoA): A Power of Attorney allows you to select a person you trust to make decisions on your behalf while you are still living, such as accessing your bank account to pay your bills or handle your taxes. Under common law, your run of the mill Power of Attorney is automatically revoked if you become incapacitated. However, a Durable Power of Attorney remains valid even if you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. The Durable Power of Attorney can become effective immediately upon completing it or you can choose to make it a Springing Durable Power of Attorney, which becomes effective only in the event you are incapacitated.
Living Will: A Living Will is about end of life health care decisions. It allows you to direct whether you would or would not want the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging measures in specific medical situations. Instead of your loved ones trying to remember if you were serious about off the cuff remarks regarding being on life support they will be able to look at your living will to see what your actual wishes are. This document relieves that decision making burden from your loved ones’ shoulders.
Health Care Power of Attorney: A Health Care Power of Attorney is more encompassing than a living will. A Health Care Power of Attorney gives broad powers to the person you choose to make health care decisions on your behalf if your physician determines you no longer have sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate your own health care decisions.
HIPAA Release: Federal legislation imposes strict privacy regulations on the disclosure of certain health information. This often results in a “Catch-22″ when it comes to other estate planning documents. Some of the powers created in the other documents are only effective if you become incapacitated, but if you are incapacitated without a HIPAA Release how can you authorize the hospital to release the information needed to establish you are incapacitated? That answer is a HIPAA release. Because the federal legislation did not include a grandfather exemption, if you previously executed any documents before this legislation went in effect, then you will still need a stand alone HIPAA Release.