Thousand Oaks Estate Attorneys
What if you became suddenly incapacitated? Our law firm helps you inform your loved ones and medical providers about your medical information with healthcare directives documents.
The HIPAA authorization is a form that designates those persons you authorize to receive medical information about you. This form allows your loved ones and others to be informed about your medical conditions should you ever become incapacitated. Without a signed HIPAA form, the people you want to receive medical information may be left in the dark about your medical situation.
What is HIPAA and what does it mean to me?
HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA laws are intended to protect against the unauthorized release of your private medical information. Facing stiff financial penalties, the medical community is very conservative about releasing medical information without a signed HIPAA form.
To circumvent potential problems, clients need to be proactive in affirmatively authorizing the release of medical information to specific individuals by signing an appropriate HIPAA form. When you have capacity and are able to act on your own, it is no problem to execute a HIPAA form. However, problems can arise when you don’t have capacity and are unable to authorize the release of your medical information. Mentioned below are a few incidences which exemplify the importance of a signed HIPAA authorization for you and your loved ones.
If you are interested in creating a HIPAA authorization that will ensure your loved ones with access to your medical information, contact a Thousand Oaks estate lawyer from Family Security Law Group at (805) 496-4681.
Examples of How the HIPAA Authorization Comes into Play
A mother received a call from her daughter’s college roommate that her daughter was being taken to the hospital by ambulance. The mother lived hundreds of miles away and was obviously deeply concerned about her daughter. She frantically called the hospital and was told that her daughter was there. When she inquired about her daughter’s condition, the nurse told her that she could not legally give her that information. The nurse explained that because her daughter was an adult, the hospital needed authorization from the daughter specifically identifying those persons to whom the hospital could release information. The mother was told that her daughter was in no condition to make such an authorization. Can you imagine how helpless the mother felt?
Another example: Your trust and your durable power of attorney for asset management have incapacity clauses. They state that in order for your successor to take over and manage your assets upon your incapacity, two physicians must sign a declaration that you are no longer able to act. To provide these declarations, physicians have to disclose your private medical information. Some are reluctant to do so without a HIPPA authorization. If this situation arises when no prior HIPAA form has been signed, a major problem exists. The doctors won’t sign the declarations without a HIPAA form and the person who needs to sign the HIPAA form doesn’t have the capacity to do so.
“Peace of Mind” Solution = Signed HIPAA Form
Our lawyers strongly encourage our clients to sign a HIPAA form so your loved ones will not have to feel the worry and stress of being kept in the dark about your medical condition should you ever become incapacitated.
Our firm provides trusted estate planning services for Thousand Oaks, as well as the rest of Ventura County and Los Angeles County. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.
Durable Powers of Attorney for Assets
In the event that you did become incapacitated, a Durable Power of Attorney for Assets would give an agent the power to handle financial matters for you (which are not trust matters) if you become unable to do so yourself. For example, a Durable Power of Attorney authorizes your agent (also called your “attorney-in-fact”), to sign checks, file your income tax returns, make decisions relating to retirement plans and insurance policies, and buy or sell property if you become unable to handle these affairs for yourself.
Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care or Healthcare Directives
The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also called Advanced Health Care Directive) is where you give your agent the right to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make such decisions for yourself. You give written direction in your document regarding your intention on such issues as life support, medical treatment and organ donation. You should discuss healthcare directives and other important matters related to your medical and financial well being with your agent and your doctor so they will feel comfortable in carrying out your wishes in the event of an incapacity.
If you wish to create a durable power of attorney, contact a Westlake Village, CA estate planning lawyer at Family Security Law Group today.
Why Do I Need a Durable Powers of Attorney?
How many people do you know who have suffered a stroke, a debilitating disease such as Parkinson’s, or some form of dementia that has rendered the person incapable of making informed decisions? You probably know several people and some may have been your parents or close friends. Should you at some point in your life become unable to make a decision for yourself, someone is going to have to make financial and/or medical decisions for you. If you have not legally named agents (family member, friend, or professional) to act for you pursuant to your written direction through healthcare directives including a Durable Powers of Attorney, then someone will have to be appointed for you. That someone will be appointed by the court in a conservatorship proceeding and become the conservator over your assets and/or over your person. A judge, who does not know you at all, will be forced to appoint a conservator for you based on a court petition and reports from a court appointed family investigator. As you are probably gleaning, this court process is rather involved and lengthy, as well as costly. Further, once a conservator is appointed, the conservator will have to report to court periodically on what has transpired since the last court hearing. Thus, this process goes on and on until you either regain your capacity or die.
“Peace of Mind” = Avoidance of Conservatorship
Having Durable Powers of Attorney (for Assets and Health Care) professionally drafted for you, which include many contingencies that are not included in many standard documents, should keep you out of court. The good news is, they’re relatively easy to implement.
If I Already Have Durable Powers of Attorney, Do They Need to be Updated?
Yes! Like all estate planning documents, we recommend that healthcare directives including the Durable Powers of Attorney be revisited every five (5) years. This timeframe allows you to reevaluate your personal and financial situation, proper agent designations, and keep up with the current laws. Learn more about how to Update Your Plan.
Our estate planning attorneys have helped countless clients from Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Moorpark, Camarillo, Simi Valley and throughout the Conejo Valley to create clear and comprehensive powers of attorney. Call us today at (805) 496-4681 or contact us online to request an initial consultation.
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