Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, aka HIPAA, is meant to protect your medical privacy, sometimes the rule may cause unwanted situations in regards to the release of medical information that may be crucial in the administration of your estate plan.
All healthcare providers must adhere to these HIPAA rules and safeguard all patients health information and are prohibiting from discussing a patient's heath information with family members and spouses without first obtaining permission for the patient. And when it comes to estates, it is quite common for a power of attorney or a trust to have provisions that a trustee or agent cannot act on your behalf unless you become incapacitated. Which would require certification from a medical professional.
However, the medical professional, under HIPAA rules, would not be able to provide your trustee with this certification unless you had given prior consent. If you had not, they would not be able to act on your behalf until a court order is obtained, which would take quite some time and effort.
You can avoid this situation by updating your healthcare directives to make sure that authorization for release of all your medical information to your representative is firmly spelled out and consented to in accordance to HIPAA law. That way your agent can start to make decisions for you immediately in case of any emergency.
Please take the time to consult with a professional estate litigation Attorney to either update your existing healthcare directives or to create new ones.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be constituted as professional legal advice.