Following the completion of high school, most parents are concerned with their child’s next step. That step could be starting college, trade school, finding a job or a combination. Families are overwhelmed with class registration, housing arrangements, transportation, job searches, and financial matters. Most simply don’t think about what would happen if their young adult child became seriously ill or injured. Many parents assume that they will be able to make medical decisions for their child even after they turn eighteen. We know this is not the case, and we have a solution that you’ll want to add to your list of to-dos sooner than later.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Without a Health Care Power of Attorney a hospital will not allow parents to make a decision and will not release information, whether in person or on the phone.
HIPAA (“The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act”) laws prohibit medical employees from discussing any health information about a person, once the person turns eighteen. Therefore, your child should have a Health Care Power of Attorney giving you (the parent) the right to make medical decisions if they are incapable of making their own.
If the adult child is hospitalized and not incapacitated; having a Health Care Power of Attorney alone does not authorize the hospital to release information about the child’s condition. When the child wants the parents to have access to medical records and to be able to talk to medical staff, a HIPAA Release is required. A general HIPPA Release, not naming a specific doctor or medical facility, can be signed by the child giving an overall release of medical records to named individuals. A medical system (such as Beaumont or Henry Ford) may also have its own form allowing release of medical information.
Our natural bias is to think about all the great things our kids will accomplish. Preparing for serious injury or illness is not top of mind, but planning ahead can help reduce uncertainty if the unthinkable happens. Having your adult child sign a Health Care Power of Attorney and a HIPPA Release should be a priority when planning for their next phase of life. (This topic is relevant for families with young adults or parents, for whom they would want to make medical decisions.)
The Big Takeaway
Your calendar is already marked for your child’s 18th birthday! Add a note to have documents drafted one month in advance. Have the paperwork ready for her (or him) to sign. I have my calendar marked for January 24th, one month prior to February 24, 2019, when my daughter will turn 18. Signing the documents will be one of the first things she does when the calendar flips.
We think that this is so important that we want to make it easy for you and your family. Contact me at LJPR Financial Advisors at: (248) 641-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org to order a Health Care Power of Attorney (which includes a complimentary HIPAA Release) from our legal team.
Laurie Marshall, MBA, CFP®
Principal, Senior Financial Advisor | LJPR Financial Advisors