Formerly called a "Living Will" or "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care" an Advance Health Care Directive allows us to deal with the situation where decisions regarding our healthcare need to be made and we are unable to communicate, in any form, at that time. The Advance Health Care Directive names an "Agent" (any person(s) of your choosing) to manage your medical and health care affairs in the event you are unable to express your preferences yourself. The decisions include an array spanning from choosing a primary care physician, to end of life decisions, to organ donation, and final disposition of your body. This document, like the Durable Power of Attorney is fully revocable and amendable.
A counterpart, and just as vital document, is the Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Medical Information under HIPAA. H.I.P.A.A. stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The original purpose of this Act was to limit access of insurance companies to your medical records; however in application, it limits everyone's access to your medical records, including spouses, parents and children. The HIPAA Authorization allows you to designate certain individuals to receive your protected medical information. This information is vital in carrying out your directive. The HIPAA Authorization can be incorporated into the Advance Health Care Directive, and/or it can be its own stand-alone document.