A few years ago, Utah enacted a new statute (law) dealing with end-of-life decisions. Previously, a person could sign a simple “living will” to provide directions for when medical providers should withhold artificial life support in lieu of unnaturally prolonging the dying process. Current law gives people more options and flexibility regarding end-of-life decisions. This may be a good time for you to review your end-of-life documents with your attorney to ensure that they reflect your current desires. At the same time, review your “medical power of attorney” which enables someone to make medical decisions if you are unconscious and in need of serious medical attention -- such as a blood transfusion, amputation, cancer treatment, and a host of other possibilities.
You may also need a HIPAA waiver form which allows your medical decision makers to access what is otherwise federally protected confidential medical information about you. What this means is if your medical decision makers don’t have access to your medical information, then their ability to make medical decisions for you is limited. By signing a HIPAA waiver, you can authorize hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers to release your confidential medical information to your medical decision makers so that they can make medical decisions for you -- knowing all the facts concerning your health and medical status. That form is rolled into a single document along with the “living will” and “medical power of attorney” mentioned above. So, instead of having three separate documents for the foregoing purposes, your end-of-life directions, medical power of attorney, and HIPAA waiver are now rolled into one document that can be given to people in your family, your medical decision makers, your hospital, your doctors, etc.
You can even register your document with a company such as “DocuBank” which will keep your document in a virtual document “bank” and issue you a medical emergency card to carry in your wallet or purse. If you are taken to an emergency room, the medical providers will find your card and dial the toll-free number and receive the foregoing documents anywhere in the U.S. or in the world -- 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A lot of our clients find that DocuBank is an essential tool for having their medical documents “with them” in the event they are hospitalized, expectedly or unexpectedly.
Check with your estate planning attorney and make sure that these matters are all taken care of. This is a good time to tidy up, clean up, and update and make sure that, even though you don’t expect anything is going to happen to you, you are prepared and those you love and care about are prepared as well.