A proper estate plan is about far more than figuring out what happens to your property, assets, and liabilities when you die. An estate plan should be used to ensure you are fully protected in the event you are unable to make your own decisions.
A health care directive is often an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. This legal document is sometimes misunderstood. Here, our Cortland estate planning lawyer offers a brief guide to health care directives in Ohio.
What is a Health Care Directive?
You may hear a health care directive called a ‘medical directive’ or, ‘advance care planning’. These terms are used to refer to the same legal concept. A health care directive is an estate planning document through which a person can provide specific, legally enforceable instructions for their medical care, should they become incapacitated. Put another way, a health care directive will ensure that wishes are known and respected – even if you are not able to voice them at any given moment.
Why Include an Advance Directive as Part of an Estate Plan
If you have specific wishes regarding your own care, it is highly recommended you set up an advance health care directive. Doing so is especially important if you have wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment or care while in a permanently unconscious state.
Other Tools: Health Care Power of Attorney and HIPAA Release
As important as it is, a health care directive is not enough to provide full protection. You should also consider granting your health care power of attorney to a trusted person. While you may want to include specific instructions in a medical directive, there is always the possibility that a scenario will arise that cannot be anticipated. Your agent will be able to make decisions on your behalf. To be clear, your health care directive still holds – even if you appoint a power of attorney.
Also, it is often sensible to include a HIPAA release as part of your estate plan. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law, requiring health care providers and insurance companies to protect the privacy of medical records. An unfortunate consequence of the law is people sometimes struggle to get access to their vulnerable loved one’s medical records. A HIPAA release can help to ensure smooth access.
Speak to a Cortland, OH Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At The Law Office of John C. Grundy, our Ohio estate planning attorney has a reputation for providing effective, personalized representation to clients. We can help you create health care directives. For a confidential consultation, please contact our legal team now. We offer estate planning services throughout Northeast Ohio, including in Cortland, Warren, Lordstown, North Bloomfield, and Middlefield.