Tag: HIPAA Compliance

hipaa esate planning documents

The Importance of Making Sure All Your Estate Plan Documents Are HIPAA Compliant

Proper estate planning requires incredible attention to detail. While it’s true that there are self-service, ‘cookie cutter’ estate planning solutions out there, there is no substitute for a lawyer-assisted estate plan strategy that covers all of the bases with confidence. 

Part of a comprehensive approach to estate planning necessarily includes a review of the compliance of all estate planning documents. Compliance matters when the time comes for estate plans to be executed after death. If an estate planning document is not compliant with federal or state regulations, it stands a chance of being legally impermissible. 

One such regulation administered at the federal level is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This important regulation was enacted in an effort to protect sensitive medical information as it is disseminated among healthcare organizations, insurance companies, and other third parties. 

Even though HIPAA legislation took place in 1996, some of its provisions haven’t been applicable to areas of family law until recently. As such, many estate planning tools are having to be completely overhauled in light of it. This has resulted in a sharp uptick of our clients requesting compliance reviews for their estate plans, and for good reason. 

HIPAA’s Effects on Estate Protection

At the heart of every estate plan is protection of assets. Every other estate planning aspect takes a backseat to the goal of protecting the estate and ensuring it is bequeathed according to the wishes of the individual in question. 

Numerous rules within the long list of HIPAA regulations actually negate many protections in legacy estate plans—estate plans that, if not updated, could expose the estate to multiple risks. 

Durable vs. Springing Powers of Attorney

A sound estate plan is going to include a provision that grants a trusted person Durable Power of Attorney (POA) in the event that the individual in question becomes incapacitated. HIPAA regulations do not affect the durable POA clauses in most estate planning documents. 

However, there is another kind of POA that is affected by HIPAA, and it’s known as Springing Power of Attorney. This applies to the transfer of power upon a doctor-certified incapacitance of the principal individual. Because HIPAA is so strict in its discouraging of doctors in the disclosure of medical information, it can be difficult to begin taking action on an estate plan if and when the key individual becomes incapacitated. 

The Impact on Trusts

Many types of trusts including revocable living trusts can be impacted by the recently enforceable HIPAA regulations. For example, the assignment of a trustee in cases of incapacitation can become unnecessarily more complicated and protracted due to HIPAA restrictions on sharing medical information. 

So, if a doctor’s hands are tied in their sharing of information, it can be a challenge for a substitute trustee to begin exercising power even when the situation clearly deems it legal to do so. 

One way to address both of the above-listed issues is to append an estate plan to include a document known as a HIPAA Release. HIPAA Releases list certain individuals that are determined to be authorized to receive protected medical information in certain scenarios (including instances of incapacitation).

However, in order for a HIPAA Release to be legally viable, it needs to meet certain criteria spelled out in the HIPPA regulations themselves. For this reason, the involvement of a knowledgeable family law attorney is often required. 

hipaa estate planning documents

Take Action to Protect Your Estate

Regulations affecting estate plans often change fairly regularly. Unless you’re constantly monitoring these changes on your own, it’s possible that your estate plan can fall out of compliance. 

Ongoing regulatory developments like the HIPAA situation described in this article can make it difficult to know if your estate plan is in good shape. Because of this, the legal team at Kokish and Goldmanis, PC suggests updating your estate planning documents every few years and especially after significant life events like marriages, divorces, deaths, or during serious illnesses. 


If estate planning seems highly complex, it’s because it is highly complex. For this reason, the family law team at Kokish and Goldmanis, PC are available to clear up the confusion. 

Whether you’re new to estate planning or you’re interested in starting the conversation from ‘ground zero’, our team is here to help. Don’t risk your estate to a standardized, one-size-fits-all estate planning solution, even if it comes with a tiny price tag. 

Take action to protect your estate by scheduling a consultation with us, today.

Resolve to Complete Your Estate Plan

The new year brings excitement, opportunity and resolutions. Often people resolve to complete their estate plan in the coming year. Given that most people do not have a current, integrated and HIPAA compliant plan, that is a great resolution.

So how do you get started? Start by watching this video, especially if you have a family:

Your goal should be to have an integrated and HIPAA compliant plan. To learn what plan is right for you and your family, call our office today at 303-688-3535 to schedule your in depth estat planning assessment. You’ll be glad you did.

The Gift of Estate Planning

Many articles have been published about the gift of estate planning. In fact, it is one of the most important gifts you can give to your family and loved ones. A well crafted estate plan represents part of your legacy and how you will be remembered. How you would like to be remembered when you are gone and does your estate plan reflect those wishes?

Why can estate planning be such important gift for your family? Consider these benefits your family receives from your well thought out plan:

1. Protection for your spouse from creditors and predators. Are you leaving a plan which exposes your spouse to risk or protects them?

2. Protection of children from the over indulgence of youth, protection from creditors and protection against predators. Does your plan for your children provide these protections?

3. Inclusion of grandchildren or other family members who are disabled. Such issues should be considered in every plan. Are they addressed i yours?

4. Asset and probate planning. Do your assets create problems and are these issues addressed in your estate plan?

5. HIPAA compliance. Protection of your health information is important in our electronic age. Is your entire plan and all documents HIPAA compliant? If not it needs to be.

6. How recently have your reviewed your plan? Plans older than 5-7 years may create unexpected traps and negative results for your family. Has your plan been reviewed recently?

Does your current plan provide these benefits to your family? Now you know why estate planning is one of the best gifts for your family not only at the holiday season but also year round.

Is Your Estate Plan HIPAA Compliant?

HIPAA compliance runs through most of our daily lives and activities. Having an estate plan which is HIPAA compliant is now mandatory in order for your wishes to be carried out.

Here are some things to check in your documents:

  • Are the documents dated prior to 2010? Older documents are often not HIPAA Compliant.
  • Do your documents mention HIPAA? If they don’t the documents are not compliant.
  • Are HIPAA Personal Representatives named? If not then the documents are not HIPAA compliant.

K&G can review your plan documents to ensure effective compliance. Contact our office at 303-688-3535 to schedule an estate plan review meeting today.