We Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning
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What happens if I become incapacitated while I am pregnant?
Your medical powers of attorney should address what should happen to you, or your unborn child, if you become permanently incapacitated while pregnant. Many women choose to include an override provision in their Living Will that would allow their designated health care agent to decide whether to keep the incapacitated mother on artificial life support until the child is born, if physicians determine the child will survive and lead a healthy and meaningful life. You should talk with your attorney about what your wishes are, and make sure they are appropriately documented and honored.
My young adult child is going away to college. Can I still help make my young adult child’s medical decisions in an emergency?
Technically no, unless your young adult child authorizes you to act on your young adult child’s behalf by granting you those powers through the appropriate medical directives. We can prepare these legal documents for your young adult child, so you can continue to help them make decisions for as long as your young adult chooses, especially if your young adult child becomes hurt and cannot make these decisions for themselves.
Can my family members talk to my doctors if I am hospitalized?
Under federal law, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), your medical information is safeguarded and presumed to be completely private. This means hospitals and physicians are precluded from sharing your medical information with family and friends, unless you have authorized them to do so. Many people wish to keep their medical information private while they have capability, but would want hospitals and physicians to be allowed to talk with designated family members or friends if there was an incapacity or death. This can be authorized by completing appropriate medical directives, including an Advance Health Care Directive, Living Will, and HIPAA Authorization.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that declares your wishes for end-of-life decisions. Most people sign a living will directing family to remove them from artificial life support if doctors determine they are in a vegetative state and will never recover from their illness or injuries. The Living Will works in conjunction with the HIPAA Authorization and Advance Health Care Directive, which each provide other important authorizations and instructions.