Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Parent to Parent: Power of Attorney
Most parents will tell you even after their children turn 18 they still consider them their little baby, but when it comes to medical care, the law says you have no say in your child's care. Seven's Lynn Martinez has more on some important legal documentation every parent needs.
WSVN -- Michael Eichberg is glad to be a young adult but admits he still needs his parents.
Michael Eichberg, College Student: "As a child you want your parent there to protect you, and if you're in the hospital, God forbid, it's the last place you want to be as a kid, and you have no one there to help you."
But he and his parents found out, when it comes to medical care, by law he was on his own.
Marc Eichberg, Dad: "I was stunned. I had no idea that I could never, if, God forbid, my kid was in the hospital, talk to the hospital. It never came across my mind."
Under the federal HIPAA Laws once a child turns 18, no medical information can be released to a parent. Attorney Jonathan Green says most parents just assume they'll be able to get their adult kids' medical information in an emergency.
Jonathan Green: "The presumption is that as a parent I'm going to be able to call up on the telephone and get that information, and it's just not true."
And that's why Michael and his dad are meeting with an attorney. Legal experts say, when a child turns 18, there are two legal documents they should sign.
The first document is the durable power of attorney, which designates a specific person to make legal and financial decisions for the signer if he cannot.
You also need to sign the HIPAA Release of Authority. It's made up of three forms. One allows doctors to tell a designated person what's going on in case of emergency. The second designates someone else to make necessary medical decisions, and the third is a living will.
Jonathan: "You're directing your mother and father to make health care decisions for you."
Michael is a junior at the University of Michigan. He's relieved to have this taken care of, and Marc is glad they're prepared for the worst.
Marc: "It's a disturbing subject, but as a parent you're better off taking care of the paperwork before something really does happen."
Think of it as an 18th birthday present, one that gives peace of mind to the entire family.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Valerie Goode