Since 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has sought to limit the release of sensitive personal medical information to third parties for the purpose of maintaining individual privacy. It also provides for a secure, tightly controlled way for your PHI (private health information that could be potentially identifiable) to be shared among your health insurance providers.

How Does HIPAA Interact With Estate-Planning Documents?

Healthcare directives are a crucial part of any effective estate plan. These documents provide for a named representative, often a close family member, to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. If there is a question as to whether you are truly incapacitated, though, the directive may not be sufficient to get your representative all the information they need in order to make an informed decision. This problem can arise even in situations in which it is clear you do not have capacity.

Because your medical and health situation affects so many other aspects of your life, virtually every estate-planning document can be potentially affected by a lack of HIPAA authorization. In another example, a durable power-of-attorney form that names someone to make financial decisions on your behalf may not be able to access all your medical billing information if you neglect to sign a HIPAA authorization form. This is the same case with living trusts and your named trustee.

Just as incapacity prevents you from making medical decisions, it also prevents you from signing a HIPAA authorization form. This is why it is important to make your living Will, healthcare directive, or living trust HIPAA-compliant. Not doing so may mean your loved ones will have to go to court to request a subpoena to force your provider to release information. This could make a delicate and stressful situation even worse.


There are HIPAA authorization forms available online, but only an experienced estate-planning attorney understands the individual provisions and how they affect your carefully crafted estate-planning documents. In addition, your attorney will advise you on state-specific laws and how they may affect HIPAA authorization. For example, Florida forms must generally be reauthorized every two years.

Luis E. Barreto & Associates has extensive experience helping Floridians craft estate plans that meet their goals so they can enjoy their golden years with peace of mind. Get in touch with our office by calling us at 305-358-1771. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients.

Luis E. Barreto