In the best of circumstances, you should complete health-care directives and documents that deal with compliance with HIPAA laws ahead of a crisis and in the clear light of calm reason. For the same reason, you should update critical paperwork for estate planning every five years or so, or just after a major life event.

If you wait too long, you might face a more complicated process.

The critical documents

According to an article in Forbes, a person should set up a separate Power of Attorney for financial and medical purposes. Unlike a will, the state of anticipated usage for the POA determines in part its structure. Your designated medical POA should also have HIPAA authority. Without this, medical personnel cannot relate your medical status to the person you have designated as your agent. It is best to fill out a HIPAA Release Form for your agent before a medical emergency. A living will or advanced directive provides a document that states your wishes regarding end-of-life care.

The POLST form

At least one other document, the Practitioner Order for Life Sustaining Treatment, merits consideration for medical estate planning. Posted on the Illinois Department of Public Health website, this two-page document states a person’s wishes for end-of-life care. HIPAA provisions allow the disclosure of this information to healthcare professionals. Filling out this form is completely voluntary and is subject to change. The form states its limitations by stating in summary that no form can address all medical decisions. Because of this, the language of the form recommends having a Power of Attorney for Health Care Directive, which empowers a legal representative to speak for you under certain conditions.