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Do I Need a HIPPA Authorization in My Estate Plan?

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Including a HIPPA Authorization in Your Naples Estate Plan

A HIPPA authorization is usually an essential part of a comprehensive Naples estate plan. If you have questions about if and why to incorporate a HIPPA release into your estate plan, you should contact estate planning attorney James R. Nici in Naples, Florida.  Board Certified in Wills, Trusts and Estates since 2000, Mr. Nici founded his firm in 2011 with a single purpose in mind – to attend to the unique legal needs of individuals retiring to Florida.

What is a HIPPA Authorization?

HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal law enacted in 1996 that limits the medical information providers can share with third parties. A major purpose of the law is to protect patients’ privacy by restricting access to personal healthcare information relating to an individual’s physical or mental health condition, medical treatment, or payment for medical treatment. Healthcare providers can only release protected information to third parties to the minimum extent necessary for treatment and payment processing. Besides these reasons, medical information can only be disclosed to the patient or someone the patient expressly authorized in an authorization form.

A HIPPA authorization (or release) is the document in which an individual authorizes a third party to access their medical information. The access that you grant can be broad or limited. For example, you could decide to release only medical records relating to billing and insurance. In Florida, a HIPPA authorization cannot be effective for more than two years (24 months). If a health care provider violates HIPPA, they will face severe penalties.

Why Should You Include a HIPPA Authorization in Your Naples Estate Plan?

There are many reasons why it is important to include a HIPPA authorization in your Naples estate plan. The release works hand in hand with health care powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, and revocable living trusts. If there is no HIPPA authorization, providers will most likely refuse to release information to any third party (including your spouse, children, or other family members) without a court order.

Health Care Power of Attorney – A health care power of attorney appoints an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. Without HIPPA authorization, your agent will not be able to access the medical information necessary to make an informed decision.

Financial Power of Attorney – A financial power of attorney designates an individual to manage your finances if you become incapacitated. If your estate plan does not have a HIPPA authorization, your agent will not be able to review the healthcare billing and insurance information necessary to make sure that medical bills are correctly processed and paid.

Revocable Living Trust – Most individuals name themselves (the grantor) as the trustee. They name a successor trustee to take over when they die or become incapacitated. Before the successor trustee can assume authority, incapacity must be proven. If there is no HIPPA release, the individual’s healthcare providers will not be able to release the medical records proving incapacity. Without the medical records, the successor trustee may be forced to petition the court for a formal ruling of incapacity or a court order permitting the medical professional to release the medical records showing incapacity. This hurdle significantly complicates the process and increases costs.

How Do You Include a HIPPA Authorization in Your Naples Estate Plan?

If you need to add a HIPPA authorization to your estate plan, you should contact James R. Nici, a qualified Naples estate planning attorney. He can ensure that you have a comprehensive and cohesive estate plan which can include a HIPAA authorization.

To be effective, a HIPPA authorization must meet all the regulatory requirements, including:

• It must be signed and dated by the patient;
• It must have an expiration date;
• It must specifically identify the protected information for release; and
• It must identify the person to whom disclosure is permitted.

A HIPPA release can be included in your plan as a separate stand-alone document, or it can be built into your power of attorney or other estate planning document (such as a trust). Because the release must be updated every two years under Florida law, it is often easiest to create one HIPPA release to cover all disclosures.

Call James Nici, a Naples Estate Planning Lawyer

If you have questions about including a HIPPA authorization in your estate plan, you should contact Nici Law Firm. James R. Nici is an experienced Naples attorney with over 25 years of experience. His firm provides highly sophisticated tax and estate planning for high net worth clients in addition to asset protection planning and corporate legal services. He can create an estate plan that fits your needs. To get started, contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.

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