LegalVault Blog

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Key to Emergency Preparedness? Advance Directives

Many people carry around a paper with emergency contacts or have an ICE entry in their cell phones. With this small step, they have peace of mind; should something happen to them, their loved ones would be notified, but would they know how to best handle the situation? The reality is that while contact information is valuable, it is only one step towards emergency preparedness. It’s also important that you provide your friends and relatives with instructions on how you want to be treated, should you become seriously ill or incapacitated.

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to detail your preferred end of life treatment plan. A living will can be used to tell your relatives when life-sustaining care should be administered and outlines if there are any instances when you would prefer that treatment be withheld. You can also spell out your wishes with respect to preferred facilities where you wish to receive treatment or whether you would prefer to remain in your home.  An attorney can help you identify possible scenarios and craft a document which outlines your wishes and provides clear instructions for those loved ones listed as your emergency contacts.

All adults should also prepare a health care power of attorney which authorizes an individual (s) the power to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so. This person(s) is known as your proxy and should be aware of your long-term care wishes and objectives, and feel comfortable making these decisions on your behalf. 

Adults should also execute a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form (commonly referred to as a HIPAA Release) which allows covered entities (hospitals, nursing homes, doctors) to release confidential health information to individuals named in the document. While you may have just a single person acting as your power of attorney, you may want additional relatives such as siblings or grandchildren kept in the loop about your health. All of these individuals should be named accordingly.

Depending on your goals, your estate planning attorney might also recommend an anatomical gift form which allows you to donate all, or just some, of your organs after your passing.

By taking the steps to craft these documents, you are making certain that not only will a doctor know who to call in the event of an emergency but that your loved ones will understand your wishes and have confidence in their decisions concerning your treatment; this is ultimate peace of mind for both you and your trusted friends or relatives who have been given a tremendous amount of responsibility. With LegalVault, these documents can be accessed 24/7/365.


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