Hi, my name is Howard Pressman and I am one of the partners at Egan, Berger and Weiner.
Today I want to talk about a very important document everybody needs to have, a medical power of attorney.
A power of attorney is a document which grants someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf. A medical power of attorney allows you to name someone, called your attorney-in-fact or agent, to make medical decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. Healthcare powers of attorney also grant the agent the authority to speak with doctors regarding your situation. 1996’s HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act added privacy standards which deal with the disclosure of a patient’s health information.
Without the power of attorney medical professionals may not speak with your loved ones about your care. A couple of years ago I was made aware of a situation where a college student was hospitalized for mental health reasons. The parents flew across the country to help their son only to find out that the doctors, citing HIPAA privacy regulations, would not speak with them.
Their son was an adult after all. What was even worse was that doctors would not even speak to the son while the parents were in the room, as they felt the son was not of sound mind to grant them the authority to speak while the parents were present. I can only imagine how scared, helpless, and frustrated those parents must have felt. All of this could have been avoided if they had the son sign a medical power of attorney. This is why it’s so important that your adult age children have this document, and you have a copy. Of course, this is an important part of your estate planning as well.
Free and inexpensive forms can be found online from numerous sources. Your family attorney is also a great source for information and advice. Please reach out to us if you have questions on this or any other topic. We are always happy to speak with you. I wish you health, happiness and financial security. Thank you for watching and check out the blog on our website at EBWLLC.com for more great advice and content.