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Estate plans and chronic illness

People in New York who have a chronic illness or have a loved one who is chronically ill should have estate plans that include certain provisions that address health and aging complications. Over 130 million people in the United States are chronically ill, and by 2020, nearly 157 million will have some type of chronic disease.

The documents that should be included in estate plans for people with chronic illnesses are no different from those that belong in the estate plans that the typical person should have. However, certain modifications are necessary in order for those documents to properly serve the needs of someone who is chronically ill. It is also important that the correct documents are in place as soon as possible after a diagnosis is received.

One important estate planning document chronically ill individuals should keep on hand is a HIPAA release. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 prohibits the distribution of protected health information to unauthorized parties. A HIPPA release gives designated individuals the authority to access a person's protected health information, something that is critical in situations in which individuals may require assistance with interacting with their health care providers.

The HIPAA release should be in writing and should specify that the authorization is being freely given. It should also specify what types of health information are allowed to be provided. The release can permit the release of only specified information, or it could authorize the disclosure of a person's complete medical record.

An experienced attorney may help clients develop a personalized estate plan that ensure that their needs are met in the event of incapacitating health issues. Assistance may be provided with completing powers of attorney, health care proxies, and living wills. The attorney may recommend certain legal solutions for complicated issues.

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