Though life may be going great right this moment, are your affairs in order? If you have family willing to walk with you through...

Though life may be going great right this moment, are your affairs in order? If you have family willing to walk with you through anything, then you might be OK when something catastrophic occurs. I have said this before and I am saying it again: Everyone needs an advocate! A close family is the best advocate you can have, but what if you have no family, or maybe you have family, but they are unwilling to step up? You must take care of this before you are unable to take care of yourself.

If you are legally married, though I do not think that the legal part is ever confirmed, your spouse will be the person called on to make decisions when you cannot. If you are not married, then medical personnel will seek out a family member to speak on your behalf. When no family member exists, who will make your decisions? If you want someone to make your business and medical decisions, then you need to work this out before something happens. It becomes much more difficult after something happens.

HIPAA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – has changed the medical field, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse. We all have health information that HIPAA protects. The problem comes when you try to help someone suffering a medical crisis, and you are not family or do not have power of attorney. I made a phone call the other day on behalf of a very sick person. Because I was not listed as one who could know this person’s medical information, the hospital would not even allow me to speak to the person’s primary care doctor. I was not looking for information, but was looking to provide information to the doctor that could help the person that I was calling about. The person used HIPAA as her reasoning and would not give me her name either.

To designate a medical power of attorney, you must fill out a Virginia Advance Directive for Health Care form and have it notarized. It is much easier to do this when all parties involved are coherent and able to think and speak for themselves. I have learned that there are companies that can take on the role of power of attorney, but again, if you want a trusted friend to have this power, then you need to take care of it ahead of time.

You may think that you have plenty of time to put your affairs in order, but the reality is that no one knows when a catastrophic or debilitating event will occur. Choosing the right person and doing the paperwork before something happens ensures that your wishes will be carried out as if you were the one making the decisions. Do not wait any longer to get things straight.