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Financial and health care powers of attorney are two very important estate planning documents, but they may be deemed invalid if they do not comply with federal privacy laws.

Powers of attorney allow you to appoint a person as your agent for financial and health care decisions in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions for yourself. For these documents to work as intended, your agent will most likely need to have access to your medical information, which is private.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevents disclosure of your medical information unless a person or persons have been named as your personal representative. Therefore, it is critical that your powers of attorney include a HIPAA clause authorizing your agent to act as your personal representative for obtaining medical information.

Not having a HIPAA clause can be especially problematic if you elect a “springing” power of attorney, which means that the person you have designated as your agent has no power until you become incapacitated. Without the HIPAA clause, your agent will not be able to follow your wishes and it will be too late to add it since you would already be declared incompetent to make legal decisions.

The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0042.