November 22, 2017

HIPAA and Guardianship Proceedings in Pennsylvania

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires that an agent be given proper authority to speak with another person’s medical providers.  HIPAA laws are in effect for medical information security. HIPPA paperwork must be in place to ensure you can speak with your loved one’s medical providers. Absent proper planning, once a person becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to give consent to an agent to make medical care decisions, as compliant with HIPAA, one must seek legal guardianship from a Court of Common Pleas.

The Guardianship Process

The process of obtaining a guardianship decree begins with filing a petition in the Court of Common Pleas. The petitioner must detail the financial and personal situation of the alleged incapacitated person.  The court requires a written statement from a medical or psychological specialist describing the nature of the disability and the reasons why a guardianship is necessary.

After the petition for guardianship is filed, the court will schedule a hearing date and order that notice be given to the alleged incapacitated person’s next of kin.  The petitioner must also provide the alleged incapacitated person with a copy of the petition.  An individual (generally a family member) must explain the citation and petition to the alleged incapacitated person in such a way that he or she is most likely to understand it.

An uncontested guardianship proceeding, where all parties to the action agree on the appointment of the petitioner as the guardian of the alleged incapacitated person, is relatively brief.   Prior to the hearing, the court will require that a medical or psychological professional provide a detailed report and statement on the alleged incapacitated person.  If such report is furnished, the medical or psychological professional does not need to attend the hearing. Once the court approves the appointment of a guardian for the incapacitated person, the guardian must provide the court with a report about the financial and personal status of the incapacitated person within the first 12 months of his/her appointment and at least annually thereafter.

Contact Us

At Halligan & Keaton, in Media, Pennsylvania, we have more than 60 years of combined legal experience. We provide a free initial consultation to every client. To discuss your estate planning needs with an experienced lawyer, call our office at 610-566-6030 or contact us online. We will travel to your home, a long-term care facility or the hospital to meet with you.

Halligan & Keaton are located in Media, PA and serve Delaware County, Montgomery County and Chester County including the communities of Media, Springfield, Havertown, West Chester, Ardmore, Upper Darby, Blue Bell, Plymouth Meeting, King of Prussia and Lansdowne.