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Estate Planning Series: Advanced Health Care Directive

Similar to a Financial Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, sometimes referred to as an Advanced Health Care Directive, allows a person (“principal”) to name an agent who is authorized to make decisions on behalf of the principal with respect to healthcare and other personal matters.

Having a valid Medical Power of Attorney in place will allow an agent to take necessary action on behalf of the principal in emergency medical situations, when the principal is unable to act on her own behalf. This might include approving emergency medical treatment. It may also allow the principal’s agent to receive important information regarding the principal’s medical condition when laws pertaining to private health information might otherwise require that this information be kept private from the patient’s loved ones.

A Medical Power of Attorney will also allow the principal to provide written instruction regarding her wishes as they pertain to end of life care, resuscitation, funeral arrangements, organ donation and other personal choices, including social interaction and the desire for continued engagement in the regular practice of religion. With proper drafting, the document may provide significant flexibility to the principal in expressing these personal preferences.

In order to be effective for medical decision-making, the Medical Power of Attorney must contain valid language effectuating a release under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). Oftentimes, a standalone release will also accompany the document, ensuring its functioning and affording more privacy to the principal.

An important part of planning for a Medical Power of Attorney is considering your options under the guidance of an attorney who may explain to you the functioning of the document and its interaction with current law. The principal to the Medical Power of Attorney should also be advised to verbally express her wishes to her agents in order to ensure adequate understanding of the principal’s preferences and the ability to comply with the directives when the time comes.

To discuss your needs for an Advanced Health Care Directive and your other estate planning needs, please contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Chauvel & Glatt. 

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.


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