During Uncertain Times Remember to Review Personal Documents

May 4, 2020 | Estate Planning & Administration

During times of uncertainty, many individuals find it important to update and add to their legal and healthcare related documents. Having the necessary documents and a plan in place can help reduce stress, especially during challenging times.

Several of the most common healthcare documents are listed and described below. These documents are only one part of a complete estate plan. An estate-planning attorney can provide legal advice on which documents may be appropriate for you and your family during the estate planning process.

Living Will: a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: a document appointing an agent to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient (when the patient is incapable of making and executing the healthcare decisions stipulated in the document). Once the healthcare power of attorney is in effect, the agent may, depending on the terms of the document, continue making healthcare decisions as long as the primary individual is legally incompetent to make decisions.

HIPAA Release*: a signed HIPAA release form must be obtained from a patient before their protected health information can be shared with other individuals or organizations, except in the case of routine disclosures for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR): a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR) is a medically related document that instructs medical personnel to cease performing life-sustaining treatment such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), endotracheal intubation, and defibrillation.

It is important to ensure these documents reflect your desires and wishes. The person you name as agent, for example, should be mentally and physically fit to make the necessary decisions, if needed. Also, having a backup or successor agent named in your documents helps to ensure that someone of your choosing is available to serve if or when the time comes. Regardless of who you choose, be sure to communicate with the person(s) you have named and let them know where to find the original versions and/or copies of your documents.

In addition to the healthcare related documents listed above, a complete estate plan can include documents such as:

  • Revocable Trust and/or Last Will and Testament
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney (asset and financial management decision-making)

Cumberland Trust’s team members have the experience and compassion needed to support families through life’s transitions. We collaborate with your accountant, estate planning attorney, and financial advisor to help guide the wealth transfer process, and to follow the plan you have put in place.

*For more information about the enforcement of HIPAA during the coronavirus pandemic, please visit HHS.gov.