Though the city of Clarksville has virtually reopened, the coronavirus still lurks. The threat of a second wave hangs above us. There is no time better than now to make sure your medical directives are in order.
What Medical Directives Do I Need in Tennessee?
There are three main documents you want to have as part of your overall estate plan in Tennessee.
- Living Will
- Healthcare Power of Attorney(POA), also known as medical power of attorney or a healthcare proxy; and
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release
- Advance Directive for Health Care
You may want or not want certain types of life-sustaining medical treatment if you become incapacitated. A living will allows you to state your intentions. A living will specifically provides space for you to state whether or not you would want:
- to receive intubation for nutrients or water; and
- to be an organ donor.
Aside from life-sustaining measures, it is also important to have someone who can make your general medical decisions in the event you cannot communicate them. A Healthcare POA is such a person whom you choose to empower to make your desired medical decisions. You should also be sure to choose a successor Healthcare POA in case something was to happen to the first agent you chose – choosing a successor is often neglected but shouldn't be.
HIPAA protects your private health information. A HIPAA Release allows you to nominate someone to access your health information without violating any laws. The person you name would also be able to consult with your medical providers on your behalf to learn more about your medical condition and medical options available to you. Generally, it is a good idea to provide a HIPAA release to your healthcare power of attorney.
Finally, Tennessee has a document that essentially combines the very basic elements of a healthcare POA, a living will, and a HIPAA release. This document is known as an Advance Directive for Health Care and can be accessed through the Tennessee Department of Health's website. This document is great if you are in a pinch and need something quickly prepared. In fact, many hospitals and doctor offices provide these to patients at no charge. However, the Advance Directive for Health Care form only covers a minimal amount of information. We strongly advise you to seek the counsel of an experiences estate planning lawyer to prepare comprehensive documents that will cover virtually any issues that may arise. Should you have specific questions on certainly medical procedures, we advise you to speak with your primary care physician.
Why Update Medical Directives & HIPAA Releases Now?
If it has been five years or so since you last reviewed your medical directives, take some time to update these documents. If you don't have any of these documents, you need to take the time and prepare them. In fact, if you take five minutes and print off the Advance Directive for Health Care form that the State of Tennessee has bring it to our office. We will go over the form with you and our notaries will notarize it for you at no cost.
It is more important now than ever to have someone to appointed to manage your healthcare in the event you cannot make your own decisions. It is equally important to have detailed and explicit directives as to how you want to be treated in case of serious illness or injury.
Not only do healthcare laws change from time to time, but the current coronavirus pandemic has made us all aware of how quickly illness can take over our lives and incapacitate us. You need to be prepared for what may lie ahead.
The future's uncertainty isn't the only reason to update or draft medical directives. During the coronavirus, many adult children moved back home with their parents. Viewed as a nation-wide trend, this is notable. If you have a children that have moved back in with you, have them prepare these documents as well so that their wishes are known.
The Key Takeaway
When we become ill or face life-threatening medical conditions, we want to be assured that our healthcare wishes are followed. Many times, we do not want to place the burden on a family member to make decisions for us. We may not even trust certain people to make proper decisions for us. These forms help ensure your decisions are heard and eliminate worry over who will be in charge if something happens to you. They empower you when you no longer have the ability to speak for yourself. With that said, make sure you have them or that they are updated.