Have you ever wondered why doctors and other healthcare providers ask you to sign a receipt for their “Notice of Privacy Practices?”  It was essentially intended to protect your personal information from  identity theft or public disclosure of your medical records.

This all came about with the 2003 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).  It strictly limits how your health information is released to anyone.  California added its own version with the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) to provide further restrictions.  Both dramatically affect estate plans. Both are very complicated and still being defined.

Statistically, there’s better than a 50-50 chance that you will have a serious accident or illness sometime in the future that will not allow you to handle your financial and medical decisions.  If that happens, your estate plan documents should take effect to outline your wishes; however, they must be compliant with the HIPPA and CMIA laws, if your plans and desires are to be carried out by your successors or trustees.

There is no room here for broad-brush, generalized documents.  If you become incapacitated, everything must be spelled out as to how and who can gain access to your information and act on your behalf.  The detail must also include such contingences as what is to happen if your successor becomes unable to handle your affairs.

Your estate plans need to be reviewed at least annually to address any changes in the HIPPA or CMIA laws or new interpretations of them.  Let Terri Hilliard Olson at Hilliard Hopkins take a look at your documents to ensure your authorizations are valid and your information is current.  Call  Terri Hilliard at 805-778-0111 or e-mail thilliard@terrihilliard.com.