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The Perfect Birthday Present for Your 18-year-old

Beckys blog 7.28.17

A few months back, Patrick Mathis explained why it is important to have a healthcare power of attorney.

You may not realize how important it is for your child to consider a healthcare power of attorney as soon as he or she turns 18. Once your child turns 18, you, as a parent, no longer have a right to access your child’s medical information. 

Imagine yourself in this scenario: Your teenager graduates from high school and leaves for college. She is enrolled in the honors program, an upper-level class or two, and has joined several clubs. One day she tells you that she’s struggling and feeling overwhelmed, but she will make it. 
Unsuspectingly, you receive a phone call from your child’s roommate who tells you your child had a nervous breakdown and might be receiving mental health treatment at the hospital near the college. You immediately jump in your car and get to the hospital as fast as you can, only to be told by hospital staff that they cannot legally tell you anything because of HIPPA and other privacy laws. You don’t know if your teenager is alive, speaking, will be able to leave, or anything. You are completely helpless and out of the loop.

This scenario is avoidable. Before your young adult goes to college this fall, talk to him or her about signing a healthcare power of attorney so that in the event an emergency arises you can find out what’s happening. A healthcare power of attorney might not be as fun as picking out new sheets and rugs for the dorm room, but it is of crucial importance.

Rebecca K. Wohltman is an associate attorney at Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. and practices in Belleville, Illinois and Clayton, Missouri. She concentrates her practice in business transactions, corporate law and tax law. She is a proud alumnae of McKendree University and is currently working on her LLM in Tax at Washington University.

Professional Services Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is as an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice. No warranty is made regarding the applicability of the information presented to a particular client situation, and the information set forth is not a substitute for original legal research, analysis and drafting for a particular client situation.

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