The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that prevents your health information from being shared with anyone without written authorization. With a properly drafted HIPAA Release and Authorization, doctors and hospitals are required to provide medical information to those named in your estate planning documents.
This is important because a named agent in a Power of Attorney cannot make an informed decision with regard to the health care or property decisions of another if the agent never learns of the disability or is completely barred from attaining any information on the matter.
Without this document, your family could be precluded from making medical decisions for you if you cannot. This may be true even with valid Powers of Attorney, as HIPAA is a federal law which supersedes Powers of Attorney which are based on state law.
Also, many health care providers do not disclose health records and health information after death. This may prevent a family from learning what caused an injury or death while a loved one was under medical care. This secrecy can protect a health care provider from liability. A properly drafted HIPAA resolves this issue and can also provide a much needed explanation as to what happened to a loved one.