Atlanta estate planning lawyers spend a good bit of time assisting their clients with financial concerns, but planning the distribution of your assets after your death is just one aspect of elder law. Incapacity planning is also an important component to any holistic long term plan that addresses all of the possible eventualities of aging, and advance health care directives are an important element.
One advance directive that is widely recommended is the living will and the other is the health care power of attorney. In July 2007, Georgia combined these two documents into one document called the Advance Directive for Health Care. The reason why the health care POA was combined with the living will is because there may be situations that arise that you did not think to address when you were drawing up the living will.
With this document you can state your wishes with regard to the types of medical procedures you are willing to accept and those that you would prefer to deny. The Advance Directive for Health Care addresses the matter of artificial life support and whether or not you want to be kept alive through artificial means should you fall into a terminal condition.
The other foundational advance health care directive is the durable medical power of attorney. When you execute this document you give an individual the authority to act in your behalf with regard to medical decisions should you be unable to make decisions for yourself. There is however a wild card of sorts that is presented by the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. A provision in this act prevents health care providers from sharing what is termed “protected health information” with any third party. So even if you have named an attorney-in-fact to represent you, a hospital may be unwilling to share your information with this person for fear of violating the HIPAA. For this reason it is a good idea to include a HIPAA release with your advance directives to be 100% sure that your wishes are carried out and your chosen representative can communicate freely with your health care providers.
Pyke & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.