As many of you know, when a child reaches the age of 18 they are legally an adult. They can legally vote, serve in the military and buy lottery tickets (as well as other items at your local convenience store). However, many of our children at age 18 still live at home or are in college and count on us, as their parents, to guide them through life and occasionally make difficult decisions for them. They need us because they really have no one else to help them. They are too young to be married and serious acquaintances are usually just as unprepared as they are to assist them through life’s true rigors.
So, what happens when your adult child is injured and can’t authorize their own medical treatment? Can’t you, as their parents authorize it for them? You are paying the bills after all. If only it were that simple.
Unfortunately, medical institutions, like hospitals and emergency rooms, don’t abide by common sense – they are bound by these pesky little things called laws. One in particular is called HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996) which requires them to keep your adult child’s medical information private – private from even you. Unfortunately, this does make a little sense as they must err on the side of caution, because their main responsibility is the health and welfare of your child. Hospitals haven’t been told by your child that you are a welcome and trusted part of their life. For all the hospital knows your child would rather die than let you help them.
Interestingly enough, your child can authorize you to make general medical and mental health decisions for them the same way you authorize your spouse, relative or trusted friend to make medical decisions for you – through the use of an advance health care directive.
This document is often overlooked by estate planners because the focus is usually on the parents who are, after all, the clients. Given that most parents are preparing an estate plan in order to ease the burden of their death on their children it stands to reason that many parents would opt to have this document prepared for their child at their cost.
Because your adult child would have to be properly advised as to the consequences of such a document, please call us at 707-843-5257 to set an appointment for your son or daughter. Ask about our special offer for a POA and ACHD for $195.00. And don’t worry, we’ll send the bill directly to you!
Eric Gullotta, Attorney, CPA