A carefully thought out and properly executed ADVANCE DIRECTIVE FOR HEALTH CARE will ensure that all of your health care needs and desires, including your wishes for end of life care are carried out and monitored by someone you trust when you cannot or no longer make those decisions or communicate them to your health care providers. There are options to choose “heroic” medical measures or none at all (DNR).  You may limit or expand the basic authorities given your health care agent to include contracting with and paying for alternate therapies, controlling who is allowed to visit you; and, finally, receiving and disposing of your body as you wish, seeing to burial or cremation.  This agent does NOT have the authority to access your money to pay for these; only the agent for the above DPAP/F has those powers. They may, of course, be the same trusted person.


Short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a properly executed HIPAA form authorizes your named agent to request your medical records, and to discuss your medical condition with doctors and health care personnel, information that would otherwise be considered “protected” or “confidential” information and would be unavailable to anyone but you.  HIPAA language may appear in a long-form Advance Health Care Directive.  It is often practical, however, to have it as a separate document which can go into your primary physician’s files along with the Advance Health Care Directive.


POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) is a form that allows seriously ill patients, or people who are on a regimen of specific drugs, to exercise and request greater control over their end-of-life care. Because your physician has “signed on” acknowledging your wishes for treatment, this form may carry additional weight when you lack the capacity to make your wishes known to medical personnel. It is supposed to be printed on BRIGHT PINK heavy weight paper in order to show up in files.


Without properly executed Durable Powers of Attorney and an Advance Health Directive that authorize someone you choose to act as your agent when you are no longer able to manage your finances or your health care, you could wind up needing a Conservatorship.