February 6, 2015

Everyone has a fundamental right to privacy. However, once a person becomes incapable of managing their own finances or health care decisions, their lives are inevitably made public to the person(s) stepping in to fill the role of decision-maker. Even for those not appointed a substitute decision-maker, it is common for family members and other loved ones to want to have access to the incapable person’s medical and financial information out of a desire to protect and defend the incapable person’s interests. Frequently, the decision whether to disclose the incapable person’s private information is left up to the substitute decision-maker. These two responsibilities, privacy and protection, may be in conflict. The underlying statutory regime offers some guidance, but leaves a wide degree of discretion to the substitute decision-maker.

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