One important estate planning document you can have is an Advance Directive for Healthcare.
Most married people assume their spouses have the right to make medical decisions for them if they were to be medically incapacitated, but that is an assumption the law does not make. Without an Advance Directive for Healthcare (medical durable power of attorney), the healthcare professionals will make those decisions. Without an Advanced Directive that contains the proper HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) language, your spouse might not even be able to review/request your medical records.
An Advanced Directive is a power you give someone else, such as a spouse or an adult child. An Advanced Directive for Healthcare gives the person you name the authority to:
Hire and fire doctors
Consent to surgery
Move you in or out of a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility
Make any and all medical decisions (including end-of-life decisions, if so stated in the directive)
An Advance Directive (Medical power of attorney) goes into effect when a physician determines you are no longer able to make decisions regarding your medical treatment and you are in one of the three conditions: terminal condition, persistently unconscious, or in an end-stage condition. Advance Directives do not control in situations that do not affect your continued life, such as routine medical treatment and non life-threatening medical conditions. If you have questions regarding any aspect of creating an Advance Directive, call to speak with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys today.