John Bullis: Health care decisions belong in writing

I think everyone should have written decisions about health care actions to be taken (or not taken) in the event of incapacity or severe illness.

The most common document is the power of attorney for health care decisions.

That would name others to act on my behalf, if I'm unable to make or communicate my desires and decisions.

The document names my health care representative and alternates. Mine was done by an attorney and covers various topics, including access to my medical information and medical records. It is signed and notarized.

I have another document authorization for release of my protected health information. It also names my representative and alternates and clearly says it is OK for them to have all information regarding my medical condition. It also is signed and notarized.

I made reduced photocopies of those documents and carry them in my wallet.

It seems best to not put those documents in a safe deposit box. It is better to just let your representative and alternates know where you keep the originals. (Probably these documents could be kept with your other estate planning documents.)

It's good to talk with your named representatives to explain why you want certain things done (or not done). The goal is to be sure they know your wishes and they will have no guilt in carrying out your decisions and directions if and when the time comes. It is smart to give them a copy for their files.

You have the right to revoke the document while you are mentally competent. Some attorneys suggest new documents should be done every few years. The Nevada Legislature only meets every two years, but changes to our laws can happen without a lot of publicity.

Other forms of this document exist, mostly in other states. It is reported that about 40 states have a "Five Wishes" form. "Living wills" also can be done. Those items seem to serve in many cases, but the documents I have are more than adequate.

My grandfather on my father's side was a "vegetable" for almost 18 months a long time ago in Montana. That was truly unfortunate. If he had these type of documents, a lot of suffering by the survivors and expense could have been avoided.

Why not find out if your loved ones have taken the time to get their wishes and decisions on health care recorded and documented correctly?

Did you hear? "Every day is a good day." It is by Yun-Men.

• John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser, serving Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs, LLC.


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