Is Your Child 18? Going to College? Going on a Trip?
So many decisions are made at this time of life for your child. You both are going through some major adjustments as you send your son or daughter off to school, on a trip or off to work. In addition to the many things you have prepared to protect your family, here are 2 more things to consider:
Durable Power of Attorney
What would happen if your child were incapacitated or unavailable to make financial or business decisions such as renewing a car tag or license, filing and paying taxes or completing financial transactions at their bank? What if your child is studying abroad and runs into issues with their passport or the authorities in another country? A Durable Power of Attorney allows a parent or designee the authority to help.
Health Care Surrogate or Medical Power of Attorney
A health care surrogate enables your child to designate someone they trust to gain access to their health information and to make decisions relating to their care and comfort in the event of an incapacity or medical emergency. Based on the HIPAA laws, medical facilities can refuse or withhold medical information of an 18+ year old’s condition, citing privacy regulations.
The below story from Consumer Reports provides a scenario of why it is important to have a health care surrogate and power of attorney document in place for your 18 year old child:
Don’t get stuck in an information vacuum if your son or daughter ends up in the ER
Early one October morning, Sheri E. Warsh, a mother of three from Highland Park, IL, stepped out of the shower to a ringing phone. On the other end, her 18-year-old son’s college roommate delivered terrifying news: Her son—270 miles away at the University of Michigan, was being rushed by ambulance to a nearby emergency room with severe, unrelenting chest pain. “I was scared out of my mind, imagining the worst,” Warsh said.
In a panic, she called the ER for details. What she got instead was a rebuff from the nurse. “She asked me how old my son was, and when I said 18, she told me I had no right to talk to the doctor,” Warsh said.
Was the nurse acting within her scope by shutting out the anxious mom? In fact, she was. The ER chose not to disclose the son’s medical condition due to the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
“Once a child turns 18, the child is legally a stranger to you,” said Jane F. Wolk, a trusts and estates attorney practicing in New York and New Jersey, referring to the legal age in almost all states (in a few it’s older). “You, as a parent, have no more right to obtain medical information on your legal-age son or daughter than you would to obtain information about a stranger on the street.” And that is true even if the young-adult child is covered under the parents’ health insurance, and even if the parents are paying the bill.
In order to Protect Your Family, consider getting these documents for your 18+ children as you prepare for this season of parenthood. DSM LAW offers a special of $175 per DPOA or HCS document to college-aged children in our area. Call today 561-352-8488 to discuss your options or email us at KCS@DSMlawFL.com.