By 2020, it is expected that about 157 million Americans will have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. If you're one of them, you should have an estate plan that reflects that reality.
These are some of the key estate planning documents that could benefit you if suffering from a chronic illness.
- A HIPAA release. HIPAA – which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 – governs who can receive your personal health information. A HIPPA release allows you to authorize someone you approve to receive your otherwise confidential medical information. You might need another trusted person, such as your adult child or spouse, to have access to crucial information.
- A living will. This document states your health care wishes and directs medical staff about future treatment.
- Health proxy. Also known as a medical power of attorney, completing this form allows you to designate someone to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so. You also can name someone as your guardian should you become incapacitated.
- Financial power of attorney. This document gives someone the ability to handle your financial and legal matters. There are different types of this document, and your attorney can advise you which is appropriate for your condition.
- Revocable trust. This can help you avoid probate but also to provide a safeguard as your disease progresses.
This is just a primer on estate planning and chronic illnesses. Your estate planning attorney can provide the details of these and other steps to take if you've been diagnosed with such an illness. Your estate plan should be updated promptly if that's the case.