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Before surgery review your health care power of attorney

Surgery reminds us to review our health care designations and documents

As we get older it is likely that each of us will have a health situation of some kind – surgery or temporary hospitalization.  Whether major or minor, these events serve as physical reminders to review our estate plans and our health care designations for the “just in case” scenario. 

What should we do when these events occur?

As I move towards having a shoulder surgery, I have reviewed my Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will and Health Medical Care Designation, aka HIPAA. The Health Care Power of Attorney, aka Health Care Proxy, authorizes someone to make medical decisions on my behalf if I am unconscious. The Living Will authorizes taking me off the ventilator if I am terminal and incurable, or brain dead. The Health Medical Care Designation, aka HIPAA, lists who the medical providers are authorized to give information to. There are Federal laws restricting the release of medical information, which is why there is a piece of tape on the floor and a sign saying “Stand Back” when you are checking in at your doctor’s office or getting a prescription filled at the pharmacy.

It is good if these Health Care Legal Documents are current in time. It is also good if they cross State lines well. We never know if we will become sick or injured while out of our State of North Carolina.

One thing about living in Asheville, North Carolina and Western North Carolina, is that you are out of the State of North Carolina if you head North, South, or West in about an hour and a half’s drive. It is only if you are going due East do you remain in North Carolina beyond about an hour and a half’s drive. We are closer to three (3) other States’ capitals than our own.

Also people like to travel. They like going to other places and they love to see their family, friends and loved ones. In addition, many people want to have as many “Adventures” as possible, so they do want to travel. We want our Health Care Legal Documents to work as well as possible and we want them to cross State lines well. You also want them to be easy to understand so that if they are needed in another country you have a much better chance of them being recognized.

Often State versions of Health Care Legal Documents and Financial Power of Attorneys are awkwardly written. They are not easily understandable and they often refer to State Statutes, which may limit their ability to cross State lines.

Do review your Health Care Legal Documents regularly. You should be meeting with your Estate Planning Attorney at least every four (4) years, and at any time there are changes in your situation with your loved ones, or what you own financially.

At the Law Firm of Steven Andrew Jackson, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, we have helped hundreds of families protect themselves and their loved ones, avoid Estate Taxes and Probate Costs, and keep their Estate Plans current with the law through The Customized Protective Estate Planning Solution™.