Planning for Incapacity FAQ

Q: What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

In a durable power of attorney, you, “the principal,” name a chosen “agent” to exercise legal authority on your behalf as if you were doing it yourself. Your agent can exercise this authority even if you become incapacitated. The authority granted can be whatever powers you want your agent to have, including making deposits and withdrawals from your bank accounts, managing real estate or making gifts on your behalf. Durable powers of attorney expire upon the principal’s death.


Q: What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a set of instructions concerning specific types of treatment you do or do not want to receive. It is intended to express your desires to your physicians regarding the withdrawal or continuation of life-sustaining care under circumstances where death is imminent or there is no hope for a meaningful medical recovery.


Q: What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

In a health care power of attorney, you designate an agent to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. It can also be used to provide instructions to your agent concerning the type of care you do or do not want. The person you select as your health care agent should be someone who knows you well and understands your views about continuing health care under certain circumstances.


Q: What is a HIPAA Authorization?

Some medical providers have refused to release information, even to spouses and adult children authorized by durable medical powers of attorney, on the grounds that the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, prohibits such releases. In addition to the above documents, you should also sign a HIPAA Authorization Form that allows the release of medical information to your Agents, your Successor Trustees, your family and other people whom you designate.