When we think of a Power of Attorney, we often think that it only applies to our elderly parents and their appointing someone (an Agent) to be able to act on their behalf, both financially, as well as medically.
However, we often overlook the importance of this document for our children who have attained the age of majority. (In Louisiana, that age is 18.) Imagine, your daughter, who just turned 18 the day before she leaves for college, and is now miles and miles away. Suddenly, just two nights later, you receive a frantic phone call from her roommate that your child just collapsed that night and was rushed to the hospital.
You call the ER at the hospital desperate to find out what your daughter’s condition is, but because of HIPPA regulations, you are not entitled to information and are rebuffed. You demand to speak to the doctor, but again your requests are denied.
Is that a surprise? No, not really. After all, your 18-year-old daughter is now considered an adult by law, and thus, you have no right to any of her protected health information, nor can you make medical decisions for her. Just a few days before she turned 18, you were in charge. You were the person who doctors would speak to. But that 18th birthday was the turning point. Legally, you are now a stranger under the law relative to medical information.
This is where a properly drafted Power of Attorney with HIPPA waiver language executed by your child appointing you as her agent is very, very important. With that simple appointment, you would be able to get the information and make all medical decisions for her.
That would give you a little piece of mind as your beloved child is off to college far away.
So before your child leaves for college, sit down with them and discuss with them the importance of executing a Power of Attorney to cover these situations. One additional item to consider is not limiting that appointment to just medical issues, but to cover financial as well. That way, you would be able to deal with the college and banks relative to tuition, loans, expenses, etc.
This document should be a Durable Power of Attorney which means it survives the incapacity of the principal allowing the person appointed as agent to continue to act on their behalf even during the incapacity.
If you or your child have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call our office. Also, you can check out our frequently asked questions page.
Chip LoCoco, Attorney at Law