Child Healthcare Proxy
Child Healthcare Proxy – Why you need a healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney documents in place for your adult children.
A Health Care Proxy allows an individual your child appoints as his or her health care agent to be informed of their medical condition and to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make them or communicate them for themselves
Many parents run into problems their 18+ year-old child gets sent to the hospital. The hospital can refuse to speak to the parent about their child’s medical condition, citing privacy laws. The reality is that once a child turns 18, parents no longer have parental rights. Legally, parents have no say over medical or financial decisions involving their adult child.
Every child over the age of 18 should sign a Health Care Proxy and a Durable Power of Attorney.
HEALTH CARE PROXY
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information and the disclosure of such information without proper authorization. As a result, physicians and nurses are hesitant to discuss the medical condition of an adult with anyone who has not been authorized, in writing, to receive this information. This is why it is important for every adult to execute a relatively simple legal document referred to as a Health Care Proxy (also referred to as a Health Care Declaration).
A Health Care Proxy allows an individual your child appoints as his or her health care agent to be informed of their medical condition and to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make them or communicate them for themselves. Because it identifies the person whose direction is to be followed regarding medical care, this document can be especially critical in the event that family members disagree about treatment.
The individual your child chooses as his or her health care agent doesn’t have to be a parent, but it should be someone who will be available during a medical emergency and who they know well and trust. It is important that your son or daughter’s chosen agent should be comfortable making medical decisions and interacting with physicians and nurses. Also, as a general rule, this document should be updated every three to five years if possible.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
Another important document to encourage your adult child to sign is a financial Durable Power of Attorney. This document allows an individual they appoint (referred to as their attorney-in-fact) to make financial decisions on their behalf in the event of their incapacity. The primary purpose of this document is to prevent the appointment of a conservator by the court to manage a person’s finances should they become incapacitated.
There is a misconception that Durable Power of Attorney is not needed until the young adult begins working and accumulates assets. This is not necessarily accurate. Let’s assume your son is enrolled in a semester abroad program at his university. What if one day you receive financial aid paperwork that requires your son’s notarized signature? What if it is the spring semester and your son has to file his federal and state income tax return? Having a Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters in place would enable your son’s attorney-in-fact (perhaps you) to sign these documents on his behalf.
Similar to a Health Care Proxy, this document should also be updated every three to five years, if possible.
Millions of children turn 18 each year in the United States. Once they are age 18, have them sign a Health Care Proxy and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney.
If your child has assets, drafting a WILL is also a good idea.
CLICK HERE to learn more about healthcare proxies
CLICK HERE to learn more about drafting a will