Column: Why include health care specifics in your estate plan?


Commentary by Joseph Hankins



An important part of any estate plan is to define your wishes for your health and end-of-life situation. While discussions concerning these topics can be difficult, it is important to put the proper documents in place. Your estate plan should include:

Living will – A living will spells out what you want to have happen in certain medical situations where you are not able to let your wishes be known. For example, your living will could state that you want to remain on life support for as long as possible or it could say that you want life support removed if you are in a vegetative state. Regardless of your decision, having a properly drafted living will ensures that your desires are known and followed, and will save your loved ones from having to guess what you would want to have happen.

Health care power of attorney – A health care power of attorney is someone you nominate to make your health care decisions if you are not able to make them yourself. It is important to select your health care power of attorney because, without one, Indiana law does not identify which particular family member can make the decision. As a result, in the event of a disagreement, your loved ones may be forced to ask a court to get involved and a judge, who likely doesn’t know you, will make the decision.

HIPAA authorization – Finally, you will want to execute a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization, which allows whomever you select as your health care power of attorney to have access to all of your medical records so that he or she can make a well-informed health care decision.

Joseph Hankins, a Noblesville resident, is an attorney with Hankins Law, LLC, specializing in estate planning and business law. He may be contacted at 973-0700.

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