Last fall, on my son’s 18th birthday, he opened four gifts that at the time I’m sure he was questioning whether I was in my right mind. The gifts were healthcare documents ready for his approval and signature. I knew that at the moment my son turned 18 he was considered a legal adult, and from that day going forward, even though I would always be there for him as his mom, I would no longer be able to legally make his decisions, including healthcare.
Here are the four separate gifts my son un-wrapped:
Gift #1 - the Healthcare Power of Attorney which named myself and his father as agents giving us the authority to consent (or withhold consent) for medical treatments on behalf of my son should he be unable to make that decision for himself.
Gift #2 – the Mental Healthcare Power of Attorney which named myself and his father as agents giving us the authority to consent (or withhold consent) for mental health issues should they arise.
Gift #3 – the Authorization to Disclose Information (HIPAA) which named myself, his father, and his grandparents giving us all the authority to access any of my son’s health information.
Gift #4 – the Living Will which designates what my son’s desires are if he is in a vegetative state where only life support is keeping him alive.
After my son made his elective choices and signed these “4 gifts”, I thought that these gifts would remain in the nice enclosed legal binder in our office closet for some years to come. Well, not so. I never imagined that I would get these gifts out quite so soon.
Recently my son injured his ankle and was receiving rehabilitation in another state. I telephoned the facility to inquire as to his progress and was gently reminded that I would not be given any information due to my son being 18. Fortunately, my son was conscious and eventually could have made arrangements with this facility to give his permission for me to receive his medical information. However, being able to fax the necessary legal documents that my son signed months earlier just made it much simpler for me to get the information I needed when I needed it. There was no delay or forms to fill out.
It’s that time of year when many young adults, like my son, are leaving home and going to college or starting a new job. In my personal example, what if these documents had not been signed and my son was not conscious to give his permission for me to access his medical information or make his medical decisions with the doctor? If this were the case, I would have had to petition the court to be my son’s guardian. The guardianship process at the courthouse is very expensive and time consuming, and can be avoided by having your young adult execute these four simple gifts. My second son is turning 18 next summer - can you guess what gifts he will open up?
What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.