Thursday, September 6, 2012

Your 18 Year Old Is An Adult Too -- Medical Power of Attorney

Although we like to think of our children as "babies" forever, upon reaching age 18 that child is now an adult in the eyes of the law. If a child is 18 or older and becomes incapacitated, the parent does not have the legal right to direct care or even receive information about the child's condition. This catches most parents off guard, and they are surprised to learn that they, as parents, do not have an automatic right to direct a child's care. Only an agent under a medical power of attorney or a court-appointed guardian can direct the care of another adult. If a child is 18 or older and does not have a medical power of attorney naming an agent to direct medical care, a parent is forced to petition the court for guardianship, which is time-consuming and expensive and requires a court appearance. We strongly recommend your child who is 18 or older execute a medical power of attorney naming an agent to act on his or her behalf during any incapacity, as well as a HIPAA authorization which authorizes doctors and hospitals to give health information about your child to the authorized agent. Go to our website to read more or call our office to discuss.