Remember how, starting a few years ago, you had to sign a “HIPAA” form when you went to the doctor’s office? HIPPA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. One of the things that HIPAA does is strictly enforces the privacy of patients’ medical records. So, if a doctor releases your medical records to the wrong person, the doctor can face harsh penalties. What does all of this have to do with estate planning? If you have an Advance Medical Directive that does not have HIPAA-friendly language in it, your healthcare agent might not be able to get access to your medical records if you become incapacitated. What’s worse, your healthcare agent might not even be able to get your doctors to talk to him or her about your medical condition. In fact, in order to get access to your doctors or medical records, your healthcare agent might have to go through the courts. So, without the right HIPAA language, your Advance Medical Directive might not be very helpful. What can you do? Simple – just have your estate planning attorney take a look at your incapacity planning documents. Your attorney can let you know in a matter of minutes whether your documents contain the appropriate HIPAA language. If they don’t, you can have new, HIPAA-friendly documents drawn up. And you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your incapacity plan will work when you need it.