Advance health care directives
A Living Will allows you to choose whether or not you wish to have your life artificially prolonged in the event you have a terminal condition, an end-stage condition or are in a persistent vegetative state, as defined by law. You should appoint a surrogate in your Living Will (who may be the same as your Health Care Surrogate) to insure that your wishes are followed.
A Living Will should not be confused with a Last Will and Testament which appoints a personal representative and disposes of property after death.
Health Care Surrogate Designation
Probably the single most important document you can have is a Health Care Surrogate Designation. This document allows you to appoint an individual to be authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to make your own medical decisions.
What about HIPAA?
HIPAA is the Federal Privacy Act that restricts the ability of health care professionals to discuss an individual's medical care and/or condition with anyone other than the individual being treated. By executing a HIPAA Release, you have the ability to authorize individuals you have chosen to obtain medical information on your behalf.