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If you were hospitalized today and SOMEONE had to make decisions for you, who would it be? Do they know what you’d want and have legal authority to make decisions for you?

This is critical whether you are young or old. If you are over the age of 18, and you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, due to an inability to communicate, you want a Health Care Directive up to date and ready to go.

Yes, the kids these days call it #adulting, and you need to do it too.  In this article, I’ll share:

  • the 3 parts every Health Care Directive must have and why they’re important,
  • the 5 things to look for in your Health Care Directive, and
  • how to update yours specifically for Coronavirus/Covid-19 at no cost.

The purpose of your Health Care Directive is to make sure that health care decisions are made for you in line with how you would want them made, if you cannot make them yourself.

If medical professionals are choosing who to intubate and who not to intubate, as they were forced to in Italy, you don’t want any barriers to them choosing you, right? Morbid, I know. But we are living in morbid times.

Typically, an “Advance Health Care Directive” (sometimes called a Health Care Directive or Medical Power of Attorney), has three parts:

  • The Living Will/Medical Directive: States HOW you want decisions to be made for you, if you cannot make them for yourself.
  • The Medical Power of Attorney: States WHO should make decisions for you, if you cannot make them for yourself.
  • Often, these documents would be accompanied by a HIPAA Release that authorizes medical professionals to disclose information to your named Medical Power of Attorney/Agent.

Depending on the state where you live, these documents can be combined into one document, or be two or three separate documents.

If you do not have a health care directive in place, NOW is the time to get one.

And, if you do have a Health Care Directive in placeNOW is the time for you to pull it out, read it, make sure you understand it, and possibly update it.

Here Are the 5 Things to Look For In Your Health Care Directive:

  1. Does your Health Care Directive name the people you would want to act on your behalf? Note I said “PEOPLE”, not “person.” You should absolutely have at least one, if not two, people named after your primary first choice decision-maker.
  2. Does your Health Care Directive list their current, up to date cell phone number? You want to make sure they can be reached, if needed.
  3. Is everyone you have named also listed on a HIPAA Release. If someone you’ve named wants to talk to your doctor, you want the information to flow freely, unimpaired by legal restraint.
  4. Does your Health Care Directive provide that you should not be intubated or put on a ventilator? Many standard documents and forms include absolute prohibition of intubation. Intubation may be necessary to treat coronavirus through a ventilator because it is a lower respiratory tract infection.

Please note that those life-saving measures could include medications that you would not normally take, so consider whether you want to include any sort of a limitation on certain drugs, even if it could put your life at risk.

  1. Does your Health Care Directive allow authorization to account for lockdowns and self-quarantines? Typically, your health care agent would have authorization in hand and present the form to medical professionals. Given current restrictions due to lockdowns and recommendations for self-quarantine that may not be possible, so consider updating your Health Care Directive to include it!

So to wrap up, get out your Health Care Directive. Read it. Make sure you understand it, and that it has the 3 parts I mentioned, and you’ve checked it over for the 5 things I said to look for.

And, if you do not have a Health Care Directive, get one now.


This article is a service of Trust Counsel, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.