You execute two different documents to empower agents to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation. For financial decision making, you can create a durable financial power of attorney.
The “durable” designation is significant, because this type of power of attorney will remain in effect if you become incapacitated. This would not be the case if you have a standard power of attorney that is not durable. It is also possible to use a springing durable power of attorney. This device would only go into effect if you become unable to handle your own affairs.
For medical decision-making, you could include a health care proxy. This document is sometimes called a durable power of attorney for health care. You can name the same person to act as agent for both forms of decision-making, but you are not required to do so.
In addition to the health care proxy, you would include a HIPAA release authorization form. The acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This law prevents health care providers from sharing medical information with anyone other than the patient. The release form will allow doctors to share your records with your health care agent.
The final piece of the incapacity planning puzzle is a living will. With this document, you express your preferences with regard to the utilization of life-sustaining measures like artificial respiration, hydration, and nutrition.