3 Must-Have Documents

There are three must-have documents that are used to let your loved ones know which life-sustaining medical procedures you want. They are:

  1. Medical Power of Attorney
  2. Living Will
  3. HIPAA Authorization Form

Each must-have medical document serves its own purpose. Family members can be barred from getting important information from hospitals and doctors, leaving them unable to make decisions for you. Your family could, in some situations, have to go to court and petition for guardianship. This is costly and very time-consuming. When it comes to critical medical care decisions, it’s best that your family is prepared before these documents are needed.

What Do They Do?

You will note that I list the Medical Power of Attorney as a separate document, as well as part of the Living Will. I prefer the combination but you could have both as long as the primary Health Care Agent is the same person. It is sometimes more expedient to have the simple Medical POA for doctor and clinic visits. Those facilities should make a copy and scan it into medical records. You may be asked for the POA at pharmacies and specialist offices also.

You will find more information in my post, Power of Attorney. In review, you will have designated a person to make medical decisions for you. The POA goes into effect when you are physically or mentally unable to speak for yourself. Just remember, this document must be created while you are of sound mind and capable of granting this power to their chosen agent.

I can’t express strongly enough how crucial this document is to both family and patient. Medical facilities will ask for it before admission. Don’t wait to get started!

Preparing a Living Will – Another Must-Have Document

Has your doctor asked you if you have a living will?  Did you promise to make one? If you have been admitted to a hospital, they probably asked you about your living will. Have you taken an older relative to the hospital and had the intake person ask for a living will? 

Yes, aging takes planning. A living will outlines your health care/medical instructions when you are no longer able or competent to communicate while you are still alive.

This document is a must-have for everyone in your family. Yes, everyone! It will take away stress and stop squabbles. No one wants to fight when there’s a medical situation at hand. The living will outlines clearly what you want to happen in these situations.

This is a particularly difficult form to complete – not because of the form itself, but there are decisions you must make that can be difficult. It must be done when you are able to understand the options.

My brother and I sat at our father’s hospital bedside and completed his Living Will for the VA hospital. Dad was able to give each question some thought and discuss his choices. Most of the time he said, “Unplug me.” Our dad was a very no-nonsense kind of guy, but he had a sense of humor.

While his reply is certainly one of your choices, but we found that the circumstances surrounding the questions were a bit more thought-provoking.  You may find that as time passes, your choices may change.  

Children fly the nest, but they don't have to be unprepared.

Kids at College are Adults Who Need these Must-Have Documents, Too!

We often think of our children away at college as our dependents, which they are to the IRS.  However, they are usually adult age and will be treated as such in most circumstances. 

The keyword here is ADULT.  You need to have all of these must-have documents for your adult children.  Have them drawn up before they leave the nest. Even when they’re young, aging takes planning, so get them on the right path early!

Head to our Resources page to view a sample of a Living Will format.

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