An Important Message during Difficult Times

March 30, 2020 | Jeffrey S. Greener | Trusts & Estates | Tax

Friends and colleagues-

My thoughts are with you during these uncertain times.

First and foremost, I want you and your family to stay safe and healthy. Social distancing is a small price to pay for guarding the wellness of our most vulnerable.

Second, I am sure you are anxious about your health and the health of those you care about. I am no different. That is why I’m writing to you about the very important subject of Advance Directives – specifically the Health Care Proxy, Living Will and HIPAA Declaration. Their purpose is to allow you to express your choices concerning medical care when you can no longer communicate them, including during a medical emergency or at the end of your life. By putting your desires in writing, you ensure that your preferences are known, disagreements between family members about your care can be avoided, and there will be one person who can legally speak for you at this critical time.

Specifically, a Health Care Proxy enables you to select someone to make end-of-life and other health care decisions for you when you cannot. A Living Will alerts medical professionals and your family to the treatments you want to receive or refuse. A HIPAA Declaration allows your named “health care agent,” and anyone else you wish, to access your medical records in times of need.

In choosing whom to designate as your Health Care Proxy, you may wish to consider a person who knows your current state of health and medical history, the treatments you want and don’t want, as well as what are their duties as your health care proxy and a commitment to undertaking those duties.

These documents can be as specific or as general as you wish; they can take into account religious considerations as well and they can be updated or revoked at any time.

Here are some things to consider before creating or updating your Advance Directives:

  • Do you have an accessible list of your primary care and any specialist doctors?
  • Do you know the location of any existing medical charts?
  • Do you have easily accessible copies of your most recent Advance Directives?
  • Have you discussed your current health care wishes with your health care agent?
  • Do you have updated telephone numbers and email contact info for this person?
  • Should you consider naming a successor agent if the appointed agent cannot serve?
  • Have you discussed with your primary care doctor a Do Not Resuscitate order?
  • Have you discussed religious guidelines with clergy?

While it is important to wish for the best, I counsel you to prepare for the worst. If, despite your best efforts, you contract the virus, with these documents in place you can focus on getting well.

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