Five types of advanced directives

Durable Power of Attorney

This allows you to appoint your “attorney in fact” or “agent” to act in place of you, the “principal” in financial matters if you become incapacitated. An ordinary power of attorney expires if the principal becomes mentally incompetent, while a durable power of attorney is effective even if that happens.

Healthcare Surrogate

A health care surrogate designation appoints someone to become your “surrogate” if you become incapacitated so that you cannot manage your affairs. The surrogate has the legal authority to talk to your doctors, manage your medical care, and make medical decisions such as treatments, surgeries, and other interventions.

HIPAA Waiver

This allows the doctor to share information with several people, beyond just the healthcare surrogate. If a spouse is the healthcare surrogate, children, or anyone, can be named in a HIPAA waiver so doctors also can discuss the person’s medical issue with them. Those named in the waiver can’t make medical decisions for the person, but at least they can speak directly with the doctor, which can provide peace of mind and relieve possible stressful situations.

Pre-need Guardian Declaration

This designates someone as a guardian in advance of need. If later a third party petitions the court for a guardian and the court rules that one is needed, the court can appoint only the people nominated in the declaration as the person’s guardian.

Living Will

This document states what means should be used to keep someone alive at the end of life if the person is incapacitated and cannot make that decision on their own at that time. Typically, people use the Living Will to ensure that they die of natural causes without medical intervention.

Contact Katherine Snow Smith at Katherine@legalexaminer.com. Follow her on Twitter at @snowsmith.